SEATTLE -- The end to the Royals' first real postseason chase since the days when MTV still played music came quietly and peacefully Wednesday night in a pulseless 6-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
The Royals' biggest season-long shortcoming, an inconsistent attack, flat-lined for a second straight night -- this time against Hisashi Iwakuma, who yielded just four hits in eight innings.
And this was one time too many.
The loss, combined with results elsewhere, officially extended the Royals' absence from postseason to 28 years. (That's back to MTV's halcyon days of Springsteen and Madonna and way before local grunge icons Nirvana.)
Bowled over by the pop culture? Just know it's been a long time.
Ervin Santana dropped to 9-10 after permitting four runs and five hits over six-plus innings in what might be his last outing as a Royal. He becomes a free agent after the season and figures to draw heavy market interest.
And the Royals seemed to know it.
Dustin Ackley lined Santana's 103rd and final pitch into the left-center gap for a leadoff double in the seventh inning. Manager Ned Yost patted Santana on back while they awaited Will Smith's arrival from the bullpen.
Catcher Salvy Perez clapped his hand to his glove as Santana walked toward the dugout. The Royals trailed 3-0 at the time, and a throwing error by Smith allowed Ackley to score before the inning ended.
Smith also yielded a two-out homers in the eighth inning to Michael Saunders and Mike Zunino, which closed out the scoring. Zunino's blast was his second of the game; his leadoff drive in the fifth opened the scoring.
Iwakuma, 14-6, was magnificent in closing out a strong season-ending kick; he is unbeaten in his last eight starts while limiting opponents to 10 runs in 56 2/3 innings.
The only qualifier on Iwakuma's effort is the Royals looked similarly feeble against rookie James Paxton in Tuesday's 4-0 loss to the Mariners. They've looked that way too often this year for a legitimate contender.
The Royals, 83-75, close their season with a four-game series, beginning Thursday night, in Chicago.
Neither team scored until Zunino turned on a first-pitch fastball from Santana to start the fifth inning for a no-doubt homer to left field. Santana had allowed only one hit, a single, through the first four innings.
The Mariners' next hit wasn't long in coming: Brad Miller lined a one-out double into the right-field corner. Santana then walked Nick Franklin and followed that by firing a pickoff throw into center field.
That put runners at second and third -- and both scored on Kyle Seager's double into the right-field corner ... 3-0, Seattle.
That was plenty.
As happened Tuesday, bad news arrived early to Safeco Field from points east. When Cleveland beat Chicago, for the 17th time in 19 games, the Royals' tragic number hit one.
In short, that meant -- at that moment -- any combination of one Royals loss or Indians victory would prevent the Royals from catching the Indians.
Shortly thereafter, Tampa Bay polished off New York, which mathematically eliminated the possibility that the Royals could catch the Rays in the wild-card chase.
Texas also won, which meant the Rangers, who are also chasing the Rays and Indians, would remain at least three games ahead of the Royals.
The countdown hit zero all around when Charlie Furbush closed out Iwakuma's victory by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Santana stranded two runners in the second inning and survived a two-out threat in the fourth after issuing successive walks to Raul Ibañez and Justin Smoak -- when Michael Saunders grounded a first pitch to second.
The Royals got a one-out double in the fifth from Mike Moustakas, but Miller made a leaping catch on Jarrod Dyson's line drive to short and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
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