Pineda leads Mariners to 3-2 win over Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Michael Pineda is giving the Seattle Mariners hope they have found a formidable pitcher to pair with CY Young winner Felix Hernandez atop their rotation.
Pineda, a 22-year-old with a 99 mph fastball, held Kansas City to one run and three hits over six innings, Brendan Ryan had a tiebreaking two-run single and the Mariners beat the Royals 3-2 Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Pineda (2-1) has a 2.33 ERA in three starts, while holding opponents to 13 hits and striking out 16 in 19 1-3 innings.
"I can't say enough about this guy," Ryan said. "From the end of spring training, I've said this guy has a legit shot to be the rookie of the year. You see his stuff. You make guys look the way they do on all three pitches, he's outstanding and he's only going to get better. ... He's got a great chance to be something special."
Jamey Wright pitched two hitless innings, while walking two. Brandon League gave up a run in the ninth on Wilson Betemit's single, but finished for his third save.
"Pineda's fastball is as good as I've ever seen," said Wright, a 13-year major league veteran. "He throws strikes and attacks hitters with it. His breaking stuff is only to get better. When you're throwing 97-98 (mph) there's so much more you can get away with. He's going to be good. Once his breaking stuff gets even better, he has a chance to be really special."
The Royals entered the game leading the American League with a .279 average, but managed just five hits, matching their season low.
"The kid's got electric stuff," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Pineda. "We weren't chasing pitches outside the zone. The kid's got a live arm. It was our first look at him. He's got a good fastball and breaking ball and he threw strikes. He's in there throwing 95 with his fastball and with a sharp breaking ball."
Ryan laced a single to left in the seventh to score Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo to snap a 1-all tie. Smoak led off the inning with a single and advanced to second when Olivo ended an 0-for-27 skid with a single. Ryan Langerhans' sacrifice bunt advanced both runners.
Blake Wood then replaced Jeff Francis and Ryan brought home both runners with a hit on a 3-1 pitch. The Mariners won for only the third time in 14 games.
"I think I can safely speak for everybody we're not having fun right now," Ryan said. "I'm not having any fun. This is not how I wanted to start out the season, personally and as a team. We're going to get better. Hopefully things will start falling and start going our way, because they haven't."
Francis (0-1) is still searching for his first victory with the Royals. He was charged with three runs on six hits, while walking none and striking out one in 6 1-3 innings.
Jeff Francoeur led off the Royals' fifth with a one-hop double off the right-field fence, the only extra-base hit off Pineda. He advanced to third on Betemit's fly out to center. Brayan Pena's sacrifice fly scored Francoeur for the only run Pineda would allow.
"We knew he threw hard and then we saw he had 99 (mph) on the second pitch of the game," Francoeur said. "We had to give ourselves a chance to swing the bats."
The Mariners tied it in the sixth with Ichiro Suzuki starting the inning with a double down the right-field line. He scored on Milton Bradley's two-out triple to right. That snapped a Mariners' 14-inning scoreless drought.
Royals left-fielder Alex Gordon singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, one shy of his career best.
NOTES: RHP David Aardsma, who saved 31 games last season for the Mariners, will begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Tacoma. Aardsma had hip surgery in January and is on the disabled list. ... The Royals took three of four from the Mariners and are the only team in the American League that has not lost a series this season.