SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Mariners have used 18 rookies this season and their inexperience is showing at the plate.
The Mariners struck out 12 times Sunday in a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals, bringing their total to 51 in the four-game series.
Alex Gordon had a pair of RBI doubles and four Royals pitchers combined to limit the Mariners to six hits a day after they had only two.
``It's one of those things where you talk about being aggressive versus passive, like earlier in the year we were really passive,' Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ``These guys are still trying to find it. They are up there looking to hit.
``As we continue to get more experience, those strikeouts will come down and you'll get more damage with those swings.'
The Mariners couldn't crack Royals starter Everett Teaford (1-0), who was making his first big league start. He had 23 appearances out of the bullpen and only learned Saturday that he'd be the spot starter Sunday.
``It's unreal,' said Teaford, who allowed three hits, walked one and struck out a career-high five. ``To have my 100th (professional) start my first big league start and my first win of my career, and my dad here. ... It's awesome to have him in town. You can't write a better story than that.'
Blake Wood took over in the sixth and tossed two hitless innings, retiring six straight, four on strikeouts. Greg Holland gave up a two-out RBI double to Ichiro Suzuki in the eighth and Joakim Soria pitched the ninth to pick up his 28th save in 35 opportunities.
``I wanted to attack the strike zone from the beginning,' Teaford said. ``I wanted as much contact as possible. I wanted them to put the ball in play.'
They had trouble just making contact.
The Mariners also had a young starter, Anthony Vasquez (1-3), who entered with a 9.00 ERA in his three previous starts. He went six-plus innings - his longest career outing - allowing seven hits, two runs with two strikeouts and no walks.
``He's different from other guys,' Gordon said of Vasquez. ``He's got a soft change, soft curveball. He only throws 88 (mph) but with his soft stuff it looks a lot harder. He just mixed it up well. He's different from the guys you usually see. We had a tough time with him.'
Kansas City got a break in the third inning when Alcides Escobar stroked a two-out single to left and Gordon lifted a routine fly to Mike Carp. The left fielder battled to track the ball in the sun, finally losing it to his right.
Escobar never broke stride, scoring without a throw and Gordon was credited with a RBI double.
``I told (Carp) that I totally understand,' Vasquez said. ``If the ball is in the sun, it's in the sun. I've been out there enough to realize it's just like you really can't see the ball.'
Vasquez put down a couple of minor threats in the middle innings. In the fifth with one out, he hit Chris Getz and Escobar followed with a single to center. He then struck out Gordon and Melky Cabrera lined out to center when Casper Wells made a nice sliding catch.
In the sixth, Eric Hosmer launched a one-out double into the right-center gap, but Jeff Francoeur popped out to second and Yamaico Navarro bounced out to short.
Vasquez, however, couldn't escape a self-induced jam in the seventh. Brayan Pena opened with a single to center then Getz laid down a sacrifice bunt. Vasquez booted it, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
Shawn Kelley took over. Escobar struck out when he failed to put down a bunt with two strikes. Gordon followed with his second double, a shot against the left-center wall. Pena scored while Getz held up at third and Kelley got out of the jam without more damage.
Gordon leads the majors with 45 doubles.
``I'm able to take a lot of positives from this outing,' Vasquez said. ``Being able to execute my pitches and keep a good rhythm to the game, a good tempo, throw a lot of strikes and stay ahead in the count.'
The Royals displayed their defensive prowess in the fourth. With Dustin Ackley on first, Carp lined out to Francoeur in right. He quickly threw to first to double off Ackley.
It was the Royals' 50th outfield assist, most in the majors. It also was the most in the big leagues since 2002 and three short of the club record.
As has been the custom all season, the Mariners sent out yet another player for his major league debut. The 28-year-old reliever Steve Delabar stepped on a big league field for the first time in the ninth, the 12th Mariner to make his debut this season.
The right-hander retired the side, with two strikeouts.
``I took a couple deep breaths before I started throwing. I had to calm my nerves a little bit,' Delabar said. ``It helped a lot. When you get that strike one, no matter where you are, strike one is the best pitch you can throw.'
Notes: Seattle hosts the AL East-leading New York Yankees for three games beginning Monday. The Mariners will start their ace, RH Felix Hernandez (14-11, 3.15), Monday, followed by lefties Charlie Furbush (3-8, 4.84) and Jason Vargas (8-13, 4.49). The Yankees have a 2.5 game lead over Boston. Hernandez is 6-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees. ... The Mariners were held to one run or less for the 39th time this season. ... The Mariners' two hits Saturday marked the 80th time in club history to be limited to two or fewer, the 62nd time at exactly two hits. ... Seattle has held its opponents to two runs or fewer 51 times. They are 40-11 in those games.
The Associated Press News Service
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