Mariners split doubleheader with Royals, keeping Seattle 1½ behind in wild-card race

Seattle settled for a 2-2 split in the series and dropped to 57-56 on the season. A win would have tied the Mariners with the Rays for the second wild-card spot in the American League.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Any hopes of completing a sweep of Sunday’s doubleheader and winning the four-game series with the Royals ended in the third inning of the nightcap when Erasmo Ramirez simply couldn’t get one more out.

The little right-hander, who was acquired from the Rays to provide some starting rotation relief, has been a lot like the Ramirez fans remember when he was previously with the organization — capable but also prone to mistakes that lead to home runs and big innings.

He offered a reprise of past performances in a nondescript 9-1 loss to the Royals. Seattle settled for a 2-2 split in the series and dropped to 57-56 on the season. A win would have tied the Mariners with the Rays for the second wild-card spot in the American League. Instead, they remain 1½ games behind the Royals, just where they started the day.

TUESDAY

Mariners @ Athletics, 7:05 p.m., ROOT Sports

The Mariners hung on for an 8-7 win in the first game after taking a 7-0 lead in the second inning.

“We want to win every series, that’s the goal,” manager Scott Servais said. “But on this road trip, coming in here, Kansas City has been playing very well. It was huge to get off to the big start early in the first game today. Second game we needed to have the big inning early to keep it going. You’d like to win three out of four, but we’ll take it.”

The M’s didn’t get that big inning early in the second game; the Royals did.

After getting two quick outs to start the third inning, the top of the Royals order pounded Ramirez for four runs in four batters. Whit Merrifield hammered a solo homer to left field to tie the score at 1-1. Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer followed with singles and then Ramirez left a 91 mph fastball on the inside half of the plate to Melky Cabrera That’s probably not the place to miss to a veteran switch-hitter. But the pitch went there and went out of the park at a much greater rate of speed. The three-run homer made it 4-1.

Ramirez made it into the sixth inning, but gave up a solo homer to Hosmer and then surrendered back-to-back singles to end his outing.

“Just one inning was the big damage,” Ramirez said. “Same thing in Texas. One inning changed everything. From now on, it’s going to be about…

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