Royals reliever Wil Smith replaced starter Danny Duffy in the fourth inning and had a career-high eight strikeouts helping to beat the Seattle Mariners and ace Felix Hernandez, 3-1 on Monday.
Smith (2-1) allowed one hit in 4.1 innings and matched for the most strikeouts by a Royals reliever since Tom Gordon struck out eight on July 9, 1993. Five of Smith’s strikeouts took only three pitches. Duffy, who had elbow surgery last year, departed after 3.2 innings and 91 pitches. He was charged with one run and five hits with four walks and four strikeouts.
Seattle got its run when Brad Miller drove in Abraham Almonte with a two-out triple in the fourth. The Royals tied it on consecutive singles by Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler to bring home Mike Moustakas in the bottom half.
The Royals grabbed the lead in the fifth when Jarrod Dyson scored on a wild pitch and Emilio Bonafacio’s sac fly scored Alcides Escobar who moved up to third. Escobar got himself into scoring position by stealing second. The Royals lead the American League in stolen bases and over the last month, went from fifth in that category to first. The Royals have 127 swipes.