Still in postseason chase, Mariners begin series with Royals


The Kansas City Royals are all but eliminated from postseason contention, but they can still have a say in other teams’ chances to play past Oct. 3.

After losing two of three games to AL wild-card contender Oakland, the Royals begin a three-game series Friday against the Seattle Mariners, who are also chasing the league’s final wild-card berth.

The Mariners (78-68) will send Chris Flexen (11-6, 3.73 ERA) to the mound to face the Royals’ Brady Singer (4-10, 4.85).

The biggest challenge for the Mariners likely will be stopping Royals catcher Salvador Perez. He hit his 45th home run on Thursday, tying him with Johnny Bench (1970) for the most home runs in a season by a player who played at least 75 percent of his team’s games at catcher.

Perez leads the majors with 112 RBIs and has the most home runs (24) and RBIs (59) in the majors since the All-Star break. He is also within three home runs of Jorge Soler’s team record of 48, set in 2019.

Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second place on the club’s all-time list with 197. George Brett holds the club record with 317.

The Mariners enter the series after a day off. They’ve lost two straight games and three straight series.

On Wednesday, a potentially game-winning hit by Jarred Kelenic in the bottom of the ninth was just foul. Instead, the Mariners didn’t score and the Boston Red Sox scored six runs in the 10th in winning 9-4.

“I have nothing but praise and how we approached things today and how we got after it again,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Our bullpen guys at the end did a heck of a job there to keep it tied. We just ran out of juice there in the 10th inning.

“A game like that, you need to have a few breaks. You need a bounce or ball to go fair when it’s just barely foul, things like that. And obviously, we did not get that to happen for us at the end.”

Flexen has been remarkably consistent this season. In 27 starts, he has given up more than four runs just five times. One of those was his last start, against Arizona on Saturday, when he gave up five runs on six hits in five innings.

“Obviously for my sake, you’d like to have all four (pitches) going,” Flexen said. “Sometimes you only have three, sometimes you’ll only have two. You have to figure out how to still get outs.”

Singer has not been as consistent. He had arguably his best start of the season on Sept. 5. He threw seven scoreless innings against the first-place Chicago White Sox, allowing five hits and no walks, and he struck out six. But in his next start, against the last-place Minnesota Twins, he gave up six runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

He allowed five home runs to Minnesota hitters.

“This is a team that thrives — most of their success comes on the long ball,” manager Mike Matheny said of the host Twins. “Especially in this ballpark. You have to try and figure out how to navigate when you get to the two-strike count. He just didn’t have enough weapons to get it done.”

–Field Level Media

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