That Julio Rodriguez became only the second player in major league history to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases over the first two seasons of a career was almost a footnote Saturday.
That's how good things are going for the Seattle Mariners.
Teoscar Hernandez hit two of the Mariners' franchise-record-tying seven home runs and Logan Gilbert allowed one run on two hits in seven innings as the Mariners trounced the visiting Kansas City Royals 15-2.
Seattle is scheduled to send ace Luis Castillo (10-7, 3.15 ERA) to the mound Sunday afternoon as it attempts to complete a three-game sweep of the lowly Royals, who have lost six of their past seven games.
"We got our brains beat in today, and we'll be back here (Sunday)," Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.
The Mariners have won 10 of their past 11 games to move into a tie with Texas for first place in the American League West.
"Everybody's playing the best brand of baseball that we can right now on every side — pitching, defense, hitting," Gilbert said. "It's fun to be in this spot."
Hernandez hit a grand slam in a seven-run third inning, in which the Mariners went deep three times.
Rodriguez added a two-run shot in the fifth for his 50th career homer. He set a franchise record by reaching that mark in 256 games, breaking Alex Rodriguez's record of 269. He also joined Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. as the only players to reach the 50-50 mark in their first two seasons.
"This game can get contagious when you're going good offensively," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That's what we're seeing. There's no question about it."
It was the fifth time in franchise history the Mariners hit seven homers in a game, but the first since 2002.
Cal Raleigh hit his team-leading 25th homer of the season, and Josh Rojas, Mike Ford and Cade Marlowe also went deep.
"It's a lot easier hitting when your lineup is on fire," said Rojas, who sparked the third-inning outburst with a solo shot down the right-field line. "A lot less pressure. Just going out there trying to get it to the next guy and seeing what they can do."
Royals rookie Alec Marsh (0-6, 5.56 ERA) is set to go against Castillo on Sunday in a battle of right-handers.
Marsh was wildly effective in five innings of relief in a 6-5 loss to visiting Seattle on Aug. 16, allowing one run on four hits, with five walks and six strikeouts. After losing his first five starts of the season, he was sent to the bullpen. This will be his first start since Aug. 5.
Castillo has won his past three starts, including the 6-5 decision Aug. 16 at Kansas City in which he allowed four runs on nine hits over seven innings.
In his most recent outing, Monday at the Chicago White Sox, Castillo gave up one run on five hits in seven innings, with no walks and nine strikeouts in a 14-2 victory. Castillo is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in five career starts against Kansas City.
Friday's victory in the series opener pulled the Mariners into a first-place tie with the Rangers, the latest in a season Seattle has had the division lead since 2003.
"What lies ahead of us here over the next 30-some-odd games is going to be really exciting," Servais said. "It's been a lot of fun and our players are feeling it. You go home at night and you can't wait to be at the ballpark the next day."
—Field Level Media