Pitchers eye repeat success as Royals face Mariners




Both the Royals' Homer Bailey and the Mariners' Yusei Kikuchi can take some confidence from their last starts into Tuesday night when they face each other in Seattle.

Bailey (5-6, 5.37 ERA), a Kansas City right-hander, is coming off a 7-3 victory against the Detroit Tigers in Omaha, Neb., in which he pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just two singles with three walks and six strikeouts.

It was Bailey's best start since April 13, when he threw seven scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians. That was also the last time the Royals had won a series before taking two of three from the Tigers last week, snapping an 0-14-2 series skid.

Bailey's victory against Detroit also was the first time the Royals won the rubber game of a series since beating Minnesota on May 30, 2018.

"We needed to get (those streaks) over with," Royals manager Ned Yost said after the Omaha game. "But we talked about this ... that we needed to score some runs to support this pitching we're getting. Homer was very efficient. He had everything working. He threw the ball extremely well."

The same could be said for the last start by Kikuchi (3-4, 4.78 ERA).

The Mariners left-hander allowed just one run on six hits in five innings Thursday at Minnesota against the American League's top-scoring team, but the bullpen faltered in a 10-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The 28-year-old rookie from Japan had gone 0-3 with a 14.40 ERA while lasting just 3 1/3 innings in each of his previous three starts.

"These last three games haven't been very strong, so I just wanted to go out there and do whatever I could for the team," Kikuchi told MLB.com postgame through an interpreter. "It does build confidence for me."

In the four starts prior to his losing streak, Kikuchi had a 2.03 ERA.

"It was great to see Yusei get on top of his game," Mariners manager Scott Servais said after the Thursday contest. "I thought he threw the ball really well against a good-hitting team. He had a really good slider today and got the fastball where he needed to. That's what we'd seen from Yusei, so it was nice to see that coming back ...

"There were a lot of positive signs. Getting him back on track is going to be really key for us moving forward."

The Royals won the opener of the three-game series 6-4 Monday night as Jorge Soler hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning, his 19th of the season.

Mariners backup catcher Tom Murphy, acquired from San Francisco after the season began, hit a three-run homer, his eighth in 27 games. Murphy has hit .333 (10-for-30) with six homers and 14 RBIs in eight starts since May 31.

"Things are just kind of coming together," Murphy told MLB.com. "I'm very appreciative for all the work in the cage the hitting coaches have been putting in with me. Those guys are some of the best I've ever had in my life. Coupled with the approach and plans we have between our analytics and the hitting coaches, it's not hard to understand why people improve over time."

--Field Level Media

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