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May 15, 2024 7:40 am

Royals’ Nelson Velazquez looks to continue hot streak vs. Mariners

Nelson Velazquez

Judging by what they saw after acquiring Nelson Velazquez at the trade deadline last year, the Kansas City Royals expected big things from the outfielder this season.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but the 25-year-old is starting to show signs of breaking out of a season-long slump.

Velazquez hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning Tuesday as the Royals rallied for a 4-2 victory at Seattle.

The teams will wrap up their series, which is tied at a game apiece, on Wednesday afternoon.

Velazquez’s homer was his first in 101 at-bats since April 4 and just his third in 37 games this season.

It came off Seattle’s Logan Gilbert, who had pitched 6 2/3 innings of three-hit ball to that point.

“He’s a high-percentage slider guy, so I went there with a plan that at-bat,” Velazquez said. “Look for the slider and try to hit the ball to the middle. I stood on my plan, and a good thing happened.”

The Royals got Velazquez last July 31 from the Chicago Cubs for right-hander Jose Cuas. Velazquez hit 14 homers with 28 RBIs in 40 games with Kansas City over the final six weeks of the 2023 season.

His average dipped to .204 after he went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels, but he has put together a five-game hitting streak since (6-for-16) to raise his average to .227.

“You see a guy a few times, probably his fourth or fifth slider he threw him, and I’m guessing that ball — I didn’t see the replay — but I’m guessing it ended up more in the middle of the plate than (Gilbert) would have liked,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.

The pitch to Velazquez was one of few mistakes made by Gilbert. Bobby Witt Jr. drew a walk to open the inning, and the Mariners intentionally walked Salvador Perez with one out.

“They found a way to put some pressure on (Gilbert) late, he made a mistake, and the three-run homer was the big swing in the ballgame,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But the stuff, the command, the competitiveness, it was pretty much what we’ve seen all year from Logan.”

Both teams were short-handed Tuesday. The Royals were without outfielder Kyle Isbel (stomach bug) for the second straight game, though Quatraro said Isbel was available off the bench.

Mariners designated hitter Mitch Garver was scratched from the starting lineup because of back spasms, and second baseman Jorge Polanco sat out after leaving in the sixth inning Monday due to a tight right hamstring.

The series finale is set to feature a pair of right-handers making their second starts since coming off the injured list when Kansas City’s Alec Marsh (3-0, 2.53 ERA) opposes Seattle’s Bryan Woo (0-0, 0.00).

Marsh is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings over two career appearances against the M’s, including one start; Woo will face the Royals for the first time.

–Field Level Media

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