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At least that’s what some in Seattle are asking as the Mariners return to Safeco Field on Friday night to face the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a nine-game homestand.
The Mariners have gone a surprising 29-14, taking hold of the American League’s second wild card without eight-time All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, who was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball in mid-May for using performance-enhancing drugs.
On that day, Mariners manager Scott Servais brought together his team and delivered a simple message.
“He just said, ‘We’re a good team. We can still do this,'” left-hander James Paxton told The Washington Post. “Losing Robbie was a blow to the team. But we knew at the time everyone would have to step up to fill the void. No one guy could replace Robinson Cano.”
The results have surprised even Servais.
“Quite frankly, I couldn’t have predicted we’d go on the run we did without having your three-hole, All-Star second baseman,” the manager told The Post.
After 10 straight games against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, a span in which they went 3-7, the Mariners swept a four-game series at the Baltimore Orioles, who are in last place in the American League East.
Next up are the Royals, the AL Central cellar-dwellers.
“We’re (20) games over .500 — that bad stretch (against the Red Sox and Yankees) didn’t do anything to our confidence,” the Mariners’ Dee Gordon told The Post earlier this week. “It’s just — sometimes you lose. Every team goes through a low stretch. We’ll be fine.”
Seattle designated hitter Nelson Cruz, the reigning AL Player of the Week Patrick DiMarco Jersey , returned to the cleanup spot in the lineup Thursday after missing two games with lower back tightness. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs as the Mariners beat the Orioles 4-2 in 10 innings.
Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-7, 5.09 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener Friday against Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (7-5, 4.04).
Kennedy, who is winless in 14 starts since a 1-0 victory on April 7 at Cleveland, has allowed two or fewer runs in nine of his 16 starts this season. He’s 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four career starts against the Mariners.
Gonzales is 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA in two career starts against the Royals. He suffered a 10-0 defeat on April 9 at Kansas City, allowing four runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings.
The Royals are coming off a 5-4 victory Wednesday at Milwaukee. It was the first time they’ve scored five runs since June 2. They’ll be seeking their first back-to-back wins since May 29-30.
“It’s not frustration,” Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com of his team’s month. “Well, that’s a lie. We’re all frustrated. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen an offensive drought like we’ve had all month long. It’s pretty puzzling. There’s no answer for it.”
Kansas City outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday. Bonifacio, who hit .255 with 17 home runs as a rookie last season, had been serving his own 80-game MLB suspension for a failed drug test.
SAN FRANCISCO — Two teams that looked a bit more like they hoped to look all season Thursday night will go head-to-head for the second straight game when the San Diego Padres take on the San Francisco Giants on Friday.
On the same night when the Padres were able to put Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer in the lineup together for just the ninth time this season, the Giants had their 1-2 pitching combination of Madison Bumgarner and Mark Melancon going strong in a 3-0 victory in the opener of a four-game series.
The Giants’ third straight victory was more than just a streak-extender, catcher Buster Posey insisted afterward.
“Bum is such a presence,” he said of the left-handed ace. “Even when he’s not pitching that night, he’s lurking. The other team knows he’s there. It’s a nice advantage for us to have.”
Bumgarner recorded his first win of the season Thursday in the same game in which Melancon notched his first save of the year.
The duo, who were viewed as a potential high-powered tag-team act when Melancon was signed as a free agent before the start of the 2017 season Shaq Lawson Jersey , worked the win/save thing for the first time as teammates.
Melancon was pressed into ninth-inning duties because of the broken finger sustained by closer Hunter Strickland earlier in the week.
If all goes well, the Giants might be afforded the luxury of moving Strickland back to a set-up role when he returns in August, presuming Melancon can continue to display the stuff that overpowered the top of the San Diego order on just 13 pitches to complete Thursday’s shutout.
Among the guys Melancon set down were Myers, who grounded out, and Hosmer, who struck out.
They combined to go 0-for-7 in their new setting — atop the San Diego order.
Myers, who suffered arm and oblique injuries in spring training and the first month of the season, was playing Thursday for the first time since April 28.
“They’re our guys,” Padres manager Andy Green assured. “Every single team has a couple guys you look to rely on offensively to anchor you. They’re our guys. They are the two guys that we expect to anchor us, and when you’re missing part of that anchor it can be tough.”
The anchor looked a bit rusty against Bumgarner, who worked eight three-hit innings, but they will get a shot at Giants right-hander Chris Stratton (8-4, 4.22 ERA) in the second game of the series.
With Myers out of the lineup, Stratton threw seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit LeSean McCoy Jersey , in a 7-0 win over the Padres in April. It improved his career numbers to 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA against them in three games, including two starts.
Stratton enters the game on a nice roll, having lost just once in his last seven starts dating back to May 9.
He will be opposed by Padres left-hander Clayton Richard (6-6, 4.31), who has won three in a row, allowing just six earned runs in 20 innings.
But the 34-year-old has struggled in his career against the Giants, going 6-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 22 games, including 19 starts.
He has pitched 13 times (10 starts) in San Francisco, going 4-4 with a 5.75 ERA.
Among those who have teed off on Richard are Posey, who has gone 12-for-32 (.375) with two home runs, and Andrew McCutchen, who also has homered twice in just 12 at-bats.