Nelson Cruz hit a pair of homers and Edwin Diaz closed out the ninth for his 23rd save.
KANSAS CITY — So many times over the past three seasons, the Royals have found ways to win that kind of game. It’s why they’ve played in the postseason and a World Series. And for a period much longer than three years, the Mariners have found so many different ways to give that kind of game away. It’s a reason why they haven’t been to the postseason since 2001.
After scoring seven runs in the first two innings against Royals’ ace Danny Duffy, the Mariners seemed on their way to an easy victory in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader. Instead, they found themselves clinging to a one-run lead late in the final inning and trying avoid a Royals’ walk-off celebration.
Past history suggested doom for Seattle.
But with two outs and the tying run on first base, Mariners closer Edwin Diaz got Melky Cabrera to fly out to left field for the final out of an eventful 8-7 win over the Royals.
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With the win, Seattle improved to 57-55 on the season and secured at least a split of the four-game series with the Royals.
“We got off to a great start against Duffy,” Servais said. “And we challenged a lot of guys in our bullpen today. Everybody had to chip in, hopefully we have enough left for the second game.”
The victory was dampened a little by the injury suffered by ultra-valuable set-up reliever David Phelps, who exited the game in the seventh inning with discomfort in his elbow. Servais had no updates on the status of Phelps’ injury following the first game.
Nelson Cruz, who was scratched from Friday’s game with neck and upper back spasms, hit a pair of homers, including the much-needed game decider in the seventh inning — a massive solo blast that traveled 465 feet per MLB Statcast.
“That second one was just a bomb,” Servais said. “We needed it. We needed every run today.”
Left-hander Marco Gonzales made his Mariners debut, pitching in place of the injured Felix Hernandez, and was given plenty of run support.
“It was beautiful,” he said.
The Mariners rocked Duffy early. Danny Valencia belted a two-run homer into right-center in the first inning and Kyle Seager later followed with a solo blast just inside the right field foul pole for a 3-0 lead. The Mariners tacked on four more runs in the second inning. Jean Segura scored from second on a…