KANSAS CITY -- Mariners shortstop Jean Segura has never hit for the cycle at any level in his baseball career, so of course he was swinging for the fences during his final at-bat in Tuesday night's 8-3 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.Segura instead hit into a fielder's choice
KANSAS CITY -- Mariners shortstop Jean Segura has never hit for the cycle at any level in his baseball career, so of course he was swinging for the fences during his final at-bat in Tuesday night's 8-3 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Segura instead hit into a fielder's choice in the eighth, but that didn't take any of the luster off a big bounce-back win for the club and longtime ace Felix Hernandez.
"Yeah, I was trying, but it's hard to do when you're trying to hit a home run," Segura said after a 3-for-5 night that included a single, double and triple. "But it was a pretty good game for me and for the team. Especially after yesterday's game. It was good to see Felix pitch well after his last outing. This was pretty good."
Indeed, the Mariners dropped a 10-0 decision in the series opener with the Royals and Hernandez was roughed up for eight runs in four frames in his previous outing against the Giants. So this was a get-back-on-track night for a Seattle club that is now 5-4 despite having four starters -- Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Ryon Healy -- on the disabled list.
"You can see how we score a lot of runs even without those guys in the lineup," Segura said. "Fortunately, we've got some guys here that are doing good, but we need those guys to compete and help, because they're great. When you're missing your No. 4 hitter and your catcher, it's tough to compete. But we're moving forward and continuing to battle."
It helps when Hernandez provides a solid effort, and the right-hander looked much better in improving to 2-1 with a 6.60 ERA. Outside of serving up a two-run homer to Mike Moustakas on a hanging curve, this was the Hernandez the Mariners needed to see in his 91-pitch outing.
"Oh man, this was really important for me," said Hernandez, who turned 32 on Sunday. "I was happy. I wasn't happy with the homer to Moustakas, a curveball stayed up. But it was really good to bounce back."
What was the difference for Hernandez, who pitched only two Cactus League games in an injury-shortened spring?
"Fastball command," he said. "I was painting the corners. That was really good."
Hernandez got plenty of help as Guillermo Heredia homered for the second time in three games and Kyle Seager chipped in with a two-run double.
And Segura just missed joining Jay Buhner (1993), Alex Rodriguez ('97), John Olerud (2001) and Adrian Beltre ('08) as the only Mariners to hit for the cycle.
"This is the closest I've ever come," said Segura. "But I'm still looking for it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Triple your fun: Segura's two-run triple in the second inning proved to be a key blow as the Mariners jumped to the early lead on Royals starter Eric Skoglund. After Daniel Vogelbach was hit by a pitch and Taylor Motter walked, Segura hit a one-hopper off the fence in left-center. Robinson Cano followed with a run-scoring double to make it 4-0.
A little Sugar on top: The game was well in control by the ninth, but Mariners closer Edwin Diaz hadn't pitched since the fourth game of the season. So manager Scott Servais sent the 24-year-old flamethrower in and he struck out the side on 13 pitches, capping things by blowing a 99-mph fastball past Abraham Almonte. Diaz has faced 14 batters and struck out 11 in his four innings this season.
"Eddie needed to pitch, whether we were up or not," Servais said. "It had been a week since he'd been out there. He looked sharp. It was great to see. He'll be available tomorrow, no problem, and we've got an off-day after that. So hopefully we can pick up the series [win] tomorrow and go back home."
"There'll be nights when Felix has a better fastball or changeup or whatnot, but tonight we had a game plan and he executed it, and got good results. It was nice to get him back on the right track again." -- Servais
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dee Gordon's infield single in the eighth extended his hitting streak to nine games this season and 15 overall dating to last year with the Marlins, which is two shy of his career high.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Mariners lost their first challenge of the season when Mike Marjama was thrown out trying to steal second to end the fifth inning. The call was ruled to stand.
Left-hander James Paxton seeks his first win of the season at 11:15 a.m. PT when he starts Wednesday's series finale against the Royals to wrap up an eight-game road trip. After a rough season debut, Paxton pitched better in allowing four hits and two runs in five innings against the Twins at Target Field. He's 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts vs. Kansas City.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB