“That’s absolutely as good as you can do in this league,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I don’t care who you’re facing.”
Cal Raleigh homered for the second straight game in the ninth inning to give Seattle’s bullpen some breathing room, though it hardly needed it. Isaiah Campbell (3-0) earned the win with a scoreless seventh, Trent Thornton tossed a perfect eighth and Matt Brash breezed through the ninth to pick up his fourth save.
Carlos Hernandez (1-8) took the loss when Rodriguez pounded the first pitch he threw to left field.
“That’s a great hitter,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “Put a pretty good swing on a good fastball.”
Nelson Velazquez homered for the fourth time in seven games since his arrival in a trade to Kansas City. MJ Melendez, Michael Massey and Freddy Fermin also drove in runs for the Royals during a fitting finish to a wacky series.
Each team had a player thrown out at the plate Thursday. Another was cut down on the basepaths, one was picked off first base and Seattle had a runner called out after inexplicably starting back to the dugout when an outfielder dropped his fly ball.
Velazquez’s homer in the fourth tied the game 1-all, but the Mariners pulled back ahead as the chaos began in the sixth.
Royals reliever Max Castillo walked the first two batters and Rodriguez followed by scorching a liner to left. The ball cleared Melendez, who had misjudged its angle of approach, and wound up at the outfield wall. Cade Marlow scored easily but Dominic Canzone, who had entered as a pinch hitter, was thrown out trying to score from first.
It wasn’t the last baserunning mistake.
Maikel Garcia was thrown out at the plate on Witt’s double in the bottom of the inning, though the Royals’ offense kept rolling. Massey tied the game with a single, Melendez atoned for his mistake with a go-ahead double and Fermin added a sacrifice fly — with the inning coming to a close when Melendez was thrown out at third base.
The biggest baserunning blunder came in the seventh, though.
Dylan Moore hit a flyball that Melendez raced in and laid out to catch. Moore thought he got it cleanly and, after touching first base, turned around and headed for the Seattle dugout. But the ball actually had bounced out of Melendez’s glove, and he threw to first base, where the umpires ruled that Moore had given himself up.
“We screwed up. I’ll be honest with you,” Servais said. “We need to tighten that up. There’s no doubt about it.”
Fortunately for the Mariners, Rodriguez was there to rescue them one more time with his no-doubt shot the very next inning.
“Today was about Julio,” Servais said. “We’re all real heavy on his back right now.”
Mariners RHP Eduard Bazardo was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and RHP Ryder Ryan was optioned to the same club. Bazardo was acquired from the Orioles on Aug. 1 for minor leaguer Logan Rinehart.
Mariners RHP Bryan Woo (forearm inflammation) threw a bullpen session before the game. Seattle manager Scott Servais said if all goes well, Woo would be activated around the time he is eligible to come off the injury list on Aug. 20.
Mariners RHP Bryce Miller (7-4, 4.04 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at Houston on Friday.