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Archive for Thursday, July 7, 2005

Reliever, Royals stymie Seattle

MacDougal making most of new pitch

July 7, 2005

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— One new pitch has made a big difference for Mike MacDougal.

In mid-May, at the urging of pitching coach Guy Hansen, MacDougal added a cut fastball. Now, after getting the last five outs in a 5-1 victory over Seattle on Wednesday night, the lanky right-hander has converted 10 straight save opportunities and regained the form that sent him to the 2003 All-Star game.

"It's been a good pitch for me," said MacDougal, 11-for-13 in save opportunities. "When I get in a little trouble, I can, instead of just throwing a fastball, have a little cut to it."

Tony Graffanino homered and tripled, and Angel Berroa had three hits for the Royals, who won two out of three and took their first series victory over the Mariners since July 17-20, 2003.

Kansas City starter Runelvys Hernandez (6-9) gave up nine hits in six-plus innings, but the only run against him was unearned.

"Elvys was as good as it gets," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "He was really good tonight."

Seattle's Aaron Sele (6-8), went six innings in his 333rd career start, giving up four runs - three earned - on 11 hits and a walk.

Mike Sweeney, Kansas City's lone All-Star, left shortly after being hit in the left forearm, near the left wrist, by Sele's first-inning pitch. X-rays were negative, and the Royals said Sweeney was day-to-day with a contusion.

Sweeney came off the disabled list Friday after missing 13 games because of a sprained left wrist. The designated hitter stayed in the game to run, but was replaced his next time up by Ruben Gotay.

"I feel so bad for him. It's just a bad bruise. Hopefully, that's all it is," Bell said. "I would expect him to be ready for us before the All-Star break."

The Royals had not homered in six games until Graffanino hit Sele's two-out pitch to left in the sixth for a 4-1 lead. Graffanino also tripled in the fourth.

"I usually don't get upset at solo home runs," Sele said. "But a solo home run there to push it to 4-1, that's a bigger lead. If you keep it 3-1, you feel like you still have a little bit of a chance. But 4-1, it's starting to open the gap later in the game."

Willie Bloomquist was 3-for-4 with three doubles for the Mariners, one day after reaching base four times on two singles, a double and a walk.

The Royals got two unearned runs on a fielding error and a throwing error by second baseman Jose Lopez, who replaced Bret Boone this week after the former All-Star was designated for assignment.

In the eighth, MacDougal replaced Andrew Sisco with runners at first and second. With just two pitches, he induced a rally-killing double play from Richie Sexson.

"It was a fastball in," MacDougal said. "I'm just trying to work on my game and be more consistent."

The Mariners lost three runners at second base. Bloomquist doubled in the first but was picked off by Hernandez. In the third, Chris Snelling was caught stealing after walking. Then Ichiro Suzuki was thrown out trying to steal after driving in a run in the fifth.

"We got a lot of hits but couldn't get a big one," said Seattle manager Mike Hargrove. "We swung the bats well. We just couldn't get the big one when we needed it."

The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the second on John Buck's RBI single and loaded the bases in the third on singles by Matt Stairs, Emil Brown and Berroa. Mark Teahen drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch from Sele, forcing in one run. Then Sele got a popup from John Buck on a 3-1 delivery.

"I don't know if I've ever done that," Sele said. "That's where the little hits put pressure on you."

Lopez singled leading off the fifth and went to second on a throwing error by third baseman Teahen. With two out, Lopez made it 2-1 on Suzuki's single into left.

In the bottom of the fifth, Terrence Long singled and went to second when Berroa singled off Sele for his third hit. Long scored the Royals' third run on a throwing error by second baseman Lopez. Lopez mishandled Graffanino's grounder in the eighth for another error that allowed the fifth run to score.

Notes: The Royals expect to activate LHP Jeremy Affeldt from the DL on Thursday or Friday. ... Snelling started in left for Seattle and got his first major league at-bat since June 4, 2002. He was 0-for-2 with two walks. ... Bloomquist's three doubles were a career high.

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