A few days before the Royals’ 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Saturday, Royals outfielder Brandon Moss stood in the clubhouse and explained why it’s too early to fret about slow spring starts.
“I’m not really using my legs in my swing yet, so I’m swinging under a lot of things pretty late, because I’m just using my arms,” said Moss, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in January. “But that’s one of those things with at-bats — it comes. The body starts working together and you get in the flow of things.”
It came Saturday.
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Moss was hitting .177 (3 for 17) with no extra-base hits and one RBI when he stepped to the plate in the seventh inning. He turned on a Bryan Shaw pitch and crushed a three-run homer to right-center field.
That staked the Royals to a 4-0 lead, but Cleveland scored seven in their half of the seventh against two minor leaguers. The Royals, 7-7, scored a pair of runs in the ninth, but have now lost five straight Cactus League games.
Royals left-hander Jason Vargas made his third spring start and tossed three innings for the first time.
Vargas was aided by a pair of double plays behind him. Cleveland had runners on first and second with one out in the first inning but Yan Gomes hit into a 6-4-3 double play. The Indians had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning, but Eric Stamets lined to shortshop Ramon Torres, who flipped to Whit Merrifield at second base and doubled off Tyler Naquin, who strayed from the bag.
The third inning was better for Vargas. Daniel Robertson singled, but was caught stealing. Vargas then got a flyout and ended his day with a strikeout.
“I was definitely a lot sharper, a lot crisper, a lot more consistent through the strike zone (in the third inning), and not getting pitches that might have been strikes and might not have been strikes,” Vargas said. “It’s nice to see and nice to go out on that last inning rather than struggling again in the third inning.”
Vargas allowed two hits, walked three and struck out three on the day.
Cleveland’s big seventh inning came against Bobby Parnell (who allowed a two-run homer and six runs total) and Chris Withrow (who came on with the bases loaded and gave up a grand slam to Francisco Mejia).
Alex Gordon started in center field and was 1 for 2 with a double and was hit by a pitch.
Jorge Soler, who was in left field, went 0 for 3 with a strikeout.
Merrifield drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning that scored the game’s first run.
Left-hander Eric Stout struck out two in his one inning of work and has not allowed a run in five outings against major-league teams this spring (he gave up one to Team Venezuela).
Right-hander Yender Caramo pitched a perfect fifth inning.
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Outfielder Terrance Gore singled in the seventh inning, took third on a single by Cheslor Cuthbert and scored on Moss’ three-run homer.
Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio hit a double and lined out hard to left field.