Opportunistic Mariners open homestand against Royals

MLB Kansas City

The Seattle Mariners aren’t concerned about their run differential.

Despite being outscored by nine runs on their just-concluded road trip, they went 6-2 to remain in the American League’s wild-card race.

Seattle will open a homestand Thursday with the first of four games against the Kansas City Royals.

“Somebody just told me our run differential was minus-9 this trip, but our fun differential was about plus-90,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’re going with that, and we’re going to ride that one a little bit.”

This season, the Mariners have been outscored by their opponents by 56 runs, yet somehow they are a season-high 11 games above .500 (69-58). Seattle is the only American League team with a negative run differential and a winning record.

“It’s the most enjoyable team I’ve ever been on,” Mariners catcher Tom Murphy said. “To be winning with this team, it’s truly special, and it’s something we expected of ourselves.”

The Mariners opened the trip with a three-game sweep at Texas and concluded it by taking two games in Oakland. In between, they lost two of three games against AL West-leading Houston, with the defeats by 12-3 and 15-1 margins.

“They really do a good job of staying in the moment,” Servais said of his players. “This group I can’t say enough about. They’re fun. They’ve got personality. They know how to play.”

The Mariners are one of the hottest teams in the American League, going 7-3 over their past 10 games, the same record as the Royals in that span.

Kansas City took four of seven games from the Astros over the past week and a half and swept a three-game road series against the Chicago Cubs in between.

Despite a seventh-inning grand slam from Whit Merrifield that gave them a two-run lead Wednesday afternoon, the Royals took a 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Astros.

“When you have an opportunity to put it away in the last third of the game, we’ve been pretty good about figuring out how to do that,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We needed some guys to throw in some spots that maybe they haven’t thrown in before. Unfortunately, just got us into a (bad) spot.”

The Royals have been without first baseman Carlos Santana for the past two games because of a Grade 1 hip flexor strain. He sustained the injury Monday running to first base and is listed as day-to-day.

The Royals are scheduled to start right-hander Brad Keller (8-12, 5.43 ERA) in the series opener against left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (7-7, 4.22), the Mariners’ lone All-Star representative.

Keller snapped a three-start losing streak Friday at Chicago, limiting the Cubs to one earned run (two total) on four hits over six innings with eight strikeouts. He is 0-2 with a 5.27 ERA in three career appearances against Seattle, including two starts.

Kikuchi is 1-3 since the All-Star break, including a 12-3 loss on Friday at Houston in which he lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on as many hits — including three home runs. He is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two career starts against Kansas City.

–Field Level Media

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