Kansas City, Mo. A handwritten sign hastily taped above the little corner of the Royals clubhouse where Sean O’Sullivan and three of relievers have their locker stalls told the story:
“Shut Out Wall.”
That’s what it said, and that’s what they did. O’Sullivan, making his first start of the year, combined with relievers Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Aaron Crow to blank the slumping Mariners, 7-0, Saturday, continuing a surprising getaway that’s vaulted the Royals into first place in the AL Central.
“You’ve got to give credit to the rest of the guys in this locker room and the way they’re playing the game,” O’Sullivan (1-1) said. “It’s fun to show up at the park right now.”
Alex Gordon had three hits, raising his league-leading total to 22, and drove in two runs, and Mike Aviles had three RBIs as the Royals beat 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and handed the Mariners their 11th loss in 13 games.
“The bullpen did a great job,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They shut the door on everything. Collins has three pitches he can use to get big league hitters out. Jeffress can overpower you. And Crow’s been dynamite. It was a great job pitching-wise all the way around.”
O’Sullivan threw five shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks, striking out four. He was helped by shortstop Alcides Escobar’s run-saving defensive play on a hard-hit grounder by Ichiro Suzuki, who was 0-for-5 and had his Kauffman Stadium hitting streak stopped at 16 games.
Only two of the five runs charged against Hernandez (1-2) were earned. He took his second straight loss after going five innings and giving up six hits. He walked two and struck out six.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge kept the clubhouse closed for several minutes while he talked to his slumping team.
“I had a few choice words for them,” he said. “I’m not real happy right now."