Tonight brings a new series with new competition for the Kansas City Royals, who must make the most of May to keep their playoff hopes realistic. They continue their stretch of late-night games with four against the Seattle Mariners, a team that shares some striking similarities with the up-and-down Royals.
Only four teams allowed more walks than the Mariners this season, and only eight have allowed less than KC. The Royals currently own a .245 opposed batting average, which is 10th in the league and one spot behind Seattle’s .236 opposed average. Seattle’s 3.65 team ERA is 13th league-wide and 0.01 runs lower than the Royals’ current ERA. For the record, KC’s ERA among starters is in the top 10, but their 4.08 ERA posted by the ‘pen puts them right in the middle of the pack for overall pitching.
Because of the men taking the mound, tonight’s game comes with a lot of uncertainty. Justin Maxwell leads all Royals in at-bats against tonight’s starter for Seattle, Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s 2-6 with two doubles and three strikeouts. It works both ways tonight though, as Seattle newcomer Robinson Cano leads the Mariners with six at-bats against KC’s Danny Duffy. Cano is currently 3-6 with a home run, four RBI and a K against the young Royal lefty.
For either pitcher, throwing strikes to trigger-happy lineups will be the key to success tonight. The Royals are 25th in the league in total walks, and Seattle is tied for 26th. These are only the worst of some mostly mediocre offensive stats.
When we look at both teams’ overall statistics on offense, we see a lot of average to below average numbers. While KC can spray the ball all over the field and pile up the cheap hits, the Mariners have much greater success in bringing base runners home. The Royals are 15th in the majors in total hits, while Seattle lags behind at 24th. However, the Mariners still come in at 12th in RBI, while KC is 23rd. Perhaps that best explains why the Mariners are one game above .500 and the Royals are one game below.