With their wild-card hopes running thin, the Kansas City Royals have a very small margin of error entering the season's final week.
That would seem to put a lot of pressure on rookie starter Yordana Ventura, but if his debut was any indication, he could be just fine on the mound against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on Monday night.
The Royals (82-73) are 3 1/2 games back of Cleveland for the AL's second wild card with seven games left to play.
Neither club has a particularly challenging remaining schedule. After three games in Seattle, Kansas City ends with a four-game road set against the Chicago White Sox, while Cleveland concludes with two home games against the White Sox and four at Minnesota.
"I kind of blacked out after I looked at Gordo ( Alex Gordon ) over there going crazy," Maxwell said. "I just saw the excitement in all my teammates' eyes. I couldn't wait to get around the bases and to home plate."
James Shields gave the Royals yet another strong pitching performance, throwing eight innings of six-hit ball. Kansas City starters have posted a 2.62 ERA during the team's current 9-5 stretch.
Ventura (0-0, 1.59 ERA) will try to continue that roll after an impressive showing in his first major league start. The right-hander limited the Indians to a run and five hits over 5 2-3 innings Tuesday, exiting with a lead before the bullpen fell apart in a 5-3 loss.
The 22-year-old's night started inauspiciously as he issued a four-pitch walk to begin the game, but he settled down, wielded a fastball that hit as high as 101 mph.
"Everyone knows I was nervous," he said. "That's why I couldn't throw one strike. But thank God, I was able to make adjustments and get next guy out."
Seattle will counter with another rookie in Brandon Maurer (4-8, 6.95), who has struggled lately but showed encouraging signs in his most recent outing.
The right-hander yielded two runs and five hits over five innings and matched a season high with six strikeouts in a 6-2 loss at Detroit on Tuesday. He had posted an 11.32 ERA over his previous four appearances, including a three-inning start in which he allowed five runs. He gave up three runs and four hits over 1 1-3 innings of relief in a 7-6 loss at Kansas City on Sept. 5.
"I thought Maurer was much better today than he's been," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's struggled lately, and he was pitching at this time of year against that team, but he didn't let any of that get to him. He kept his emotions in check and did a very nice job."
The Mariners (68-88) come off a 3-2 road win Sunday over the Los Angeles Angels that was twice delayed by a swarm of bees.
The Royals, who won three of four against Seattle at home earlier this month, are 38-36 on the road as they try to finish above .500 away from home for the first time since a 43-39 mark in 2003.
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 17, 2013||Carlos Pena||60-Day DL||Appendectomy|
|September 16, 2013||Danny Duffy||Day-to-Day||Flexor tendon inflammation|
|September 08, 2013||Danny Duffy||15-Day DL||Strained left forearm|
|September 05, 2013||Salvador Perez||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|September 03, 2013||Noel Arguelles||60-Day DL||Left shoulder|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|September 16, 2013||Felix Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Strained oblique|
|September 14, 2013||Brad Miller||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|September 05, 2013||Felix Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Greg Holland got the save. Alex Gordon deserved one, too.
Gordon threw out a runner at the plate in extra innings and scored on Salvador Perez 's two-out double in the 12th to lift the Kansas City Royals over the Seattle Mariners 6-5 on Monday night.
Kansas City moved within three games of idle Cleveland for the second AL wild card with six remaining - all on the road. Texas is a game behind the Indians.
Gordon saved the Royals in the 10th inning, when his one-hop throw to Perez from left field cut down Kyle Seager for an inning-ending double play.
" Alex Gordon 's golden arm, and great tag play by Salvy," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Holland walked the first two batters in the 12th, then retired three straight to end it.
"I'd like to tell you we did that on purpose," he said, "but we didn't. This team has been resilient all year and people are starting to see that now. It's one great defensive play after another. It's clutch hits. When we're not hitting early, the pitching keeps us in games."
Gordon drew a leadoff walk from Lucas Luetge (1-3) in the top of the 12th and Emilio Bonifacio sacrificed. Eric Hosmer popped out before Johnny Giavotella walked.
Perez, who had three hits, sent the next pitch into the left-field corner. Gordon scored and Giavotella was thrown out at the plate.
Wade Davis (8-11) pitched two hitless innings for the win. Holland earned his 45th save in 48 chances to tie Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993) for the club record.
Holland said that achievement "maybe will sink in later sitting at home during the offseason. But right now I'm just thinking of helping us win."
Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders hit consecutive homers in the eighth for Seattle off Luke Hochevar to tie it at 5.
"They did a good job of picking me up tonight," Hochevar said. "You want to be a little smoother. We could have done without the back-to-back home runs, but at this point of year winning is the bottom line."
Seager opened the 10th with a double off Francisley Bueno and went to third when right fielder Justin Maxwell bobbled the ball for an error. Kendrys Morales was intentionally walked before Davis took over and struck out Gutierrez.
Saunders was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Pinch-hitter Endy Chavez lifted a fly ball to left and Seager tagged up, but Gordon's throw to the plate was barely in time.
"Gordon took a couple steps back and I went for it and it didn't go our way, I guess," Seager said. "I thought we had done enough to win, but they battled back."
Perez said his first priority was to catch the ball.
"He put down a pretty good slide," Perez said. "I just put my glove on home plate and he touched my glove. The umpire was in a good position."
With their 21st extra-inning game, the Mariners matched the 1982 team record. They have lost 15, three more than the previous mark of 12 set in 1982. Seattle has dropped eight straight in extra innings, equaling last year's club.
The Royals opened the scoring with two runs in the fourth off Brandon Maurer . Billy Butler had an RBI single and Hosmer scored when right fielder Abraham Almonte 's throw to third sailed into the stands for an error.
Yordano Ventura , making his second big league start for the Royals, allowed one run and two hits in 5 2-3 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out six, but three walks hastened his departure.
Kansas City rallied for three in the eighth to take a 5-3 lead.
Bonifacio tied it with an RBI single, and Gordon scored when Hosmer grounded into a fielder's choice. Seattle tried to turn an inning-ending double play, but a throwing error by second baseman Nick Franklin allowed Hosmer to reach second. Perez added an RBI single.
"Every game from now to the last game of the season is important to us," Perez said. "We can't think about the other teams, what happened. We just need a win. We can't control other teams. The only thing we can control is our game."
NOTES: Royals RHP James Shields , hit on the right elbow by a line drive in the third inning Sunday, showed no ill effects Monday, according to Yost. Shields remained in the game and threw eight shutout innings against Texas. He is expected to make his start Friday against the White Sox. ... Mariners LHP Joe Saunders , who lost 6-5 on Saturday to the Angels, is not expected to start again this season. "As of right now, that's what we're looking at," manager Eric Wedge said. Saunders is 11-16 with a 5.26 ERA in 32 starts. ... Almonte has reached base safely in all 17 games to begin his major league career and has a hit in 15 of them. It's the second-longest such streak in club history.