SEATTLE — As he spoke of his game-winning hit, Jesse Winker was quick to acknowledge the torrid hitting of teammate Ty France, the numerous arms in the bullpen that performed in key moments and the fact the Seattle Mariners weren’t whole this week due to illness.
“It’s just a testament to what we have here,” Winker said. “We have depth. We have guys that compete. We have guys that just come to the yard ready to play, ready to do their job.”
Winker provided the capper to a terrific homestand for the Mariners, finishing an 11-pitch at-bat with a broken-bat single into right field to score Adam Frazier, and Seattle beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 in 12 innings on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
Seattle went 7-2 on the homestand, despite being without key pieces like outfielder Mitch Haniger, reliever Paul Sewald and manager Scott Servais during a big chunk of that stretch due to COVID-19. But the Mariners took two of three from both Houston and Texas before sweeping the Royals.
“We have guys that step in right away and have impact at-bats and impact innings pitched,” Seattle starter Robbie Ray said.
Winker, acquired in a trade last month with Cincinnati, had his first big moment for the Mariners in Saturday’s 13-7 win over the Royals with a two-run double in the eighth inning.
He topped that a day later.
Winker had an 11-pitch at-bat in the 10th inning, ending with a sacrifice fly that scored Frazier to tie the game at 4. Two innings later, Winker fouled off seven pitches from Joel Payamps (0-1) before dumping his first hit of the game into right field. Frazier scored easily when Whit Merrifield‘s throw was up the line.
“(Winker) stays calm, composed throughout an at-bat,” Mariners acting manager Kristopher Negron said. “It could be a bad call, he doesn’t let it get to him. He just goes on to the next one.”
Yohan Ramirez (1-0) got the win by escaping a jam in the 12th. Ramirez, the sixth Seattle reliever, walked Michael A. Taylor and Ryan O'Hearn with one out in the 12th, loading the bases. But he recovered to strike out Merrifield and Nicky Lopez.
France continued his hot hitting with a two-run homer on the third pitch of the game. France was intentionally walked before even stepping into the box to open the bottom of the 12th and Winker followed with the winner.
France, who had a career-high five hits on Saturday, added three more on Sunday. He’s the first Mariners player since David Bell in 2001 with eight or more hits and two or more homers over a two-game span.
J.P. Crawford also had an RBI double and Seattle’s bullpen allowed one earned run over six innings.
Steckenrider had not allowed a long ball in his first six appearances this season and blew a save chance for the first time.
“For the most part we did a lot of things right today. Just couldn’t get the big (hit) when we needed it late,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said.
The home run by Dozier cost Ray his third straight win. Ray pitched at least six innings for the fourth consecutive start to begin his Seattle career following his big offseason signing by the Mariners. Ray’s only trouble came in the third when a leadoff walk to Taylor and Cam Gallagher‘s double plated one run.
Salvador Perez doubled later in the inning to score Edward Oliveras and pull the Royals even at 2.
Ray allowed five hits and struck out five. He’s the only pitcher in the majors this year to throw at least six innings in four starts.
Royals starter Carlos Hernandez pitched 5 1/3 innings and struck out four.
Royals: Perez was back in the lineup a day after getting hit on the left hand and wrist by a pitch. X-rays were negative, and Perez got a day off from catching until coming on in the 10th inning.
Mariners: Seattle had no new additions to the COVID-19 injured list. Negron said the players and coaches affected by the virus this past week were feeling better but was unsure if they would rejoin the team before or during the upcoming nine-game road trip. “The hope, the plan is, hopefully they’re good to go on this road trip,” Negron said. “That’s what we’re trying to hope for. They’re feeling better and once they pass protocols they’ll be ready to go with us.”
Royals: Kansas City is off Monday before opening a series in Chicago against the White Sox on Tuesday. LHP Daniel Lynch (1-1, 5.40) will start the opener.
Mariners: After an off day, Seattle begins a three-game series at Tampa Bay. RHP Logan Gilbert (2-0, 0.58) will start the opener Tuesday.