Starter Jason Vargas is sharp, reliever Danny Duffy struggles as Royals beat Rangers 8-4

03/22/2014 5:51 PM

03/22/2014 8:23 PM

With Jason Vargas on the mound, the Royals cruised to an 8-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday at Surprise Stadium. Vargas worked a solid seven innings of one-run baseball in his longest outing of the spring.

Vargas scattered eight hits. The Rangers finally broke through on an RBI double by infield prospect Roughned Odor in the seventh.

By then, the Royals were already well ahead. Vargas threw 96 pitches.

“I’m getting ahead of hitters,” Vargas said. “I was able to get out close to 100 pitches without feeling really fatigued. So that’s a good sign.”

So they could afford Danny Duffy’s eighth-inning disaster. It was Duffy’s second relief appearance of the spring. After collecting two quick outs, he issued a pair of walks and yielded a three-run homer to Rangers outfielder Michael Choice.

“I just threw a fastball belt-high,” Duffy said. “And he just slammed it.”

The Royals dropped a five-spot on Texas starter Tommy Hanson in the second inning. The rally started with a walk by Mike Moustakas. Danny Valencia chopped a groundball single. Jarrod Dyson loaded the bases by walking.

There were two outs when Nori Aoki came to the plate. He provided an infield single to score a run. The next batter, Alcides Escobar, cleared the bases with a double over the head of center fielder Leonys Martin. Eric Hosmer got into the action with an RBI single to complete the barrage.

Vargas found himself in trouble in the third. He gave up a bloop single to Kevin Kouzmanoff and saw J.P. Arencibia smash a double high off the right-field wall.

With one out, there were two runners in scoring position. Vargas was undeterred. He struck out Martin with a changeup. He fielded a grounder back to the mound off the bat of infielder Adam Rosales for the third out.

The Royals went back to hammering Hanson in the fifth. Escobar provided his second double of the day. Then Justin Maxwell detonated a two-run homer well past the bullpen in left field.

Arms race

Duffy did not help his case for the last spot in the bullpen and he is running out of chances to make an impression. His two chief competitors appear to be Francisley Bueno and Donnie Joseph.

“Got the first two outs, and then I think got in a hurry to get that third out,” manager Ned Yost said. “Lost command a little bit. But ended up getting out of the inning after the home run.”

Medical updates

Second baseman Omar Infante completed infield drills and took swings in the batting cage. He still feels a “pinch” in right elbow when he swings. He is dealing with a bone spur. Infante said he will still need a few more days off before he can return to action.

Etc.

The Royals still have 38 players in camp. Yost wants to trim that number to 25 before the team leaves for a two-game exhibition series in Milwaukee.

Up next

UP NEXT

The Yordano Ventura Show hits the road for Scottsdale, where he’ll face the Giants for the second time this spring. Ventura is slated to throw about 100 pitches. The game begins at 3:05 p.m. Central, but cannot be heard on local radio.

Quote

“You don’t want to give up a homer after two walks. Especially in a 7-1 game.” Ned Yost, analyzing Danny Duffy’s outing.

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