Mitch Haniger hit a tiebreaking home run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning as the Seattle Mariners edged the host Kansas City Royals 6-5 Wednesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
Haniger’s solo shot gave the Mariners home runs in their first 14 games of the season, tying the major-league record set by the 2002 Cleveland Indians.
The Mariners had to endure some tense moments in the bottom of the ninth as left-hander Roenis Elias tried to close out the victory.
With two outs, light-hitting Terrance Gore doubled off the base of the wall in left field. The M’s then issued an intentional walk to Whit Merrifield, who in the seventh inning got a bunt single to extend his hitting streak to 31 games, breaking the franchise record held by George Brett. Elias unintentionally walked Billy Hamilton on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases before getting Adalberto Mondesi to pop out to shortstop Tim Beckham in shallow left field to end the game.
M’s LF Jay Bruce left the game in the fourth inning with tightness in his left Achilles. … LHP Yusei Kikuchi made another quality start but was unable to get his first major-league victory. Kikuchi gave up three runs on five hits in six innings, with one walk and three strikeouts.
By the numbers
6: The M’s became the first team in the modern era (since 1908) to score at least six runs in 12 of their first 14 games of the season. The 1932 New York Yankees scored six in 11 of their first 13.
Our take from right field
Most of the Mariners’ victories this season have been devoid of much drama, but this game featured plenty, from Haniger’s homer to Elias’ tightrope act in the bottom of the ninth. The M’s were the masters of the one-run victory last season and improved to 4-1 in those situations this season.
The Mariners will go for a four-game sweep when they wrap up their series in Kansas City at 10:15 a.m. Thursday. RHP Mike Leake (2-0, 2.92 ERA) is scheduled to face Royals RHP Jorge Lopez (0-1, 4.09).
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