Meche stumbles against Mariners

Meche stumbles against Mariners

SEATTLE -- It seemed apparent early that Royals starter Gil Meche was going to have a long, or probably more accurately, a short night.

And that was the long and short of it, as the Seattle Mariners notched an 8-4 victory over the Royals on Saturday night as 26,457 looked on at Safeco Field.

Meche just had a very ... well, let him tell it.

"It was pretty terrible," Meche said. "It was just a matter of not having good stuff -- overthrowing, not locating, not getting ahead. Just about anything negative you could think of tonight, that's what happened."

The Mariners banged Meche for four runs in the first inning on five hits -- two singles followed by Mike Sweeney's two-run double and RBI doubles by Jack Hannahan and Jack Wilson. Meche had to labor through 39 pitches to get through the inning.

"Obviously, it put us too big of a hole early in the game like that. Four runs in the first inning, that's tough to play back from," Meche said.

Meche recovered to work two perfect innings, but it was bombs away in the fourth. Hannahan led off with a home run, and Rob Johnson unloaded a two-run blast for a 7-2 lead. That was Meche's last inning.

"I made some pitches where I kept the ball down and they hit some weak ground balls, but I still didn't see the stuff in those innings either," he said. "So it was just a matter of actually keeping the ball down for the span of a couple of innings and right back up in the zone in the fourth."

In his four innings, Meche gave up seven earned runs on eight hits. At least he didn't walk anyone.

Since returning from a month on the disabled list with a lower back strain, Meche has won two of his four starts but says that he's just not feeling all that well.

"My back feels just fine," he said. "It's just a matter of my arm. I just don't feel like I can generate much, and I think the time off killed me. But, you know, I felt OK in my last start and obviously just didn't bounce back too well this week."

The Royals, who had a rare four-homer game as they took the series opener on Thursday night, smacked three in this loss.

They got their own two-run homer in the third when John Buck followed Mitch Maier's single with a drive into the right-field seats, his sixth of the year. The victim was Ian Snell, a right-hander who came to the Mariners in a trade with Pittsburgh on July 29.

The Royals kept hammering the ball with authority, but with little effect.

"We had chances early if we didn't hit 'em at 'em," manager Trey Hillman said. "We scorched seven balls right at 'em."

Snell's right arm was smacked by Maier's shot in the fifth inning. The ball bounced to the first baseman and, naturally, Maier was out. After several test pitches Snell remained in the game for the rest of the inning.

"I didn't have much time to react at all. It was on me like in a split-second," said Snell.

He left after that inning when his forearm began swelling, but at least he could joke about it later. The ball must have left seam marks.

"It hit me right in the wrist," Snell said. "I was going to ask Maier if he wanted to sign 'Mitch,' but he's not available right now."

The Royals had a golden opportunity against reliever Miguel Batista, an ex-KC righty, in the seventh as they loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Alberto Callaspo and Mark Teahen and a walk to Maier. But Batista escaped unscathed as Buck popped out, Yuniesky Betancourt struck out and David DeJesus grounded out.

They also got singles from Willie Bloomquist and Billy Butler to start the eighth against Randy Messenger, but that fizzled as well.

"On the whole today I felt like we hit a lot of balls on the screws or right at guys or hit it to the deepest part of the park and [Franklin] Gutierrez would run everything down," Teahen said.

After Jose Lopez began the Mariners' eighth with a home run against Roman Colon, the Royals bounced back as Teahen and Maier hit back-to-back blasts off Messenger to start the ninth. It was Maier's third home run, his entire career total, in the last five games.

"Obviously, scoring a couple runs there in the ninth, it would've been big to get some across in the seventh or eighth, and we weren't able to do it, and I guess that's the story of the game," Teahen said.

And this is the end of that story.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.