04/15/08 11:56 PM EST
Bale, Royals have long day in Seattle
Lefty allows five runs, bullpen six more in loss to Mariners
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
Lots of Mariners runs. They rumbled over the Royals, 11-6, in a 3-hour, 25-minute tussle that began in the late afternoon and continued into the foot-numbing evening.
The aura of the back-to-back, complete-game, marvelously pitched victories by Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke did not carry over for the Royals. Not for starter John Bale or most of the bullpen pitchers who came out of retirement to join him.
"Today, obviously, we didn't pitch very well," manager Trey Hillman said. "We left balls out over the plate and I think we only recorded four, maybe five, ground-ball outs. That's not a very good sign."
There were just four compared to, say, the 16 that Greinke recorded here in his gem on Monday. Not a good sign, indeed.
Bale labored into the fourth inning and, in each inning, he was greeted by a leadoff hit. In each instance, that batter eventually crossed the plate.
Ichiro Suzuki, the perpetual pest, led off the first inning with a double. And he started the third with a single.
This is standard stuff for Ichiro. He has hit safely, believe it or not, in every one of the 26 games he has played against Kansas City. Yep, every one. Since April 14, 2005, he has collected 49 hits in 106 at-bats against the Royals and that's a .462 average. He's scored 23 runs and knocked in 21.
It's the longest current hitting streak against one team by any Major Leaguer.
"They did a pretty good job of getting the leadoff man on in every inning, especially when they get those leadoff doubles," Bale said. "They get 'em on, get 'em over and get 'em in, and that's exactly what they did tonight."
Bale, a lefty reliever who won a starting job in Spring Training, is 0-3 in his three starts with a 7.63 ERA.
"I struggled from the get-go," Bale said. "I'm just going through a little dead arm right now. I couldn't get anything on the ball. I've never had a dead arm this early in the season before, and I think that's what I'm going through right now. It just felt a little heavy and wasn't coming out of my hand right."
The dead-arm syndrome sometimes strikes during Spring Training, sometimes later.
"That's the thing with a dead arm, you never know when it's going to hit you," Bale said. "It's kind of an unpredictable thing."
The symptoms include a flat look to pitches that batters enjoy viewing.
When Bale left the score was tied at 4, thanks to a sprightly comeback in the top of the fourth by the Royals. But when Kenji Johjima led off the Mariners' half with a single, Hideo Nomo was summoned from the bullpen.
Bingo, boom. Two straight hits, Willie Bloomquist's single and Yuniesky Betancourt's double, and the Mariners were ahead to stay.
"It snowballed on Nomo pretty quick," Hillman said. "The bloop hit by Bloomquist and then the double and he left some pitches up, too. And we had some untimely walks, too, which has not been part of our first 13 games."
Something else that had not been part of the Royals' first 13 games was the sight of Billy Butler going hitless. Yet there he was, 0-for-3 as he grounded into a double play to end the game. So Butler will not be hitting in all 162 games after all.
However, David DeJesus had two hits in his second game back from injury and seems to be in full gear. Tony Pena Jr., who started the year in a terrible funk, had two RBI hits including a double. Mark Grudzielanek popped three singles and upped his average to .341.
On the Mariners' side, Jose Lopez had three sacrifice flies to tie a Major League record. It had been done 11 times, the last by the Mariners' designated hitter extraordinaire Edgar Martinez on Aug. 3, 2002.
The Royals scored a season-high six runs but also gave up a season-high 11. They were still barking, though, in the ninth inning on singles by Grudzielanek and Mark Teahen before time ran out.
"We clawed our way back early in the game and tied it up and then we got it close again and we just couldn't hold 'em today," DeJesus said. "But we're going to fight to the end."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.