Royals

Jason Vargas shines as Royals beat Indians 5-3 to begin three-game series

Jason Vargas was making his fifth start of the season and lugged a 5.95 ERA into Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians. With the Royals’ 5-3 win, he improved to 3-1 with the previous two victories fashioned by generous run support. On Tuesday night, Vargas helped himself. After a first-inning home run to Michael Brantley, he retired the next eight batters and 11 of the next 12.
Jason Vargas was making his fifth start of the season and lugged a 5.95 ERA into Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians. With the Royals’ 5-3 win, he improved to 3-1 with the previous two victories fashioned by generous run support. On Tuesday night, Vargas helped himself. After a first-inning home run to Michael Brantley, he retired the next eight batters and 11 of the next 12. The Kansas City Star

Jason Vargas’ 15th pitch was an 89-mph fast ball that caught too much of the plate and all of Michael Brantley’s bat barrel. The ball disappeared into the right field seats and another discouraging outing loomed.

But the home run proved to be Vargas’ only mistake. He surrendered one more hit before leaving after the sixth inning of the Royals’ 5-3 victory over the Indians before 29,099 at Kauffman Stadium.

Vargas’ fifth start of the season was his best. He lugged a 5.95 ERA into the contest, and he hadn’t finished the sixth inning of his previous four outings.

Tuesday was different. After the home run ball to Brantley, Vargas retired the next eight and 11 of the next 12.

“We were able to execute some pitches, keep them from rallying and getting guys on base to extend innings.”

That was especially true in the sixth.

After Jason Kipnis opened with a double, Vargas threw three outside the strike zone to Carlos Santana.

But instead of Santana working the count, he offered on an off speed pitch and bounced into a slow roller ground out. Vargas then retired Brantley on a foul pop and Ryan Raburn on a ground out.

Vargas struck out five and walked two, reversing the trend from his last outing, when he walked five and struck out one in a victory over the Indians on April 27.

“Aggression,” was the difference catcher Salvador Perez said. “He attacked the strike zone, got ahead in the count and used all of his pitches.”

Vargas was working on extra rest as manager Ned Yost switched the rotation to allow Jeremy Guthrie the start against predominantly right-handed hitting Detroit on Sunday, with the lefty Vargas going against the mostly left-handed hitting Indians.

The switch not only gave Vargas an advantage in lineups but also on the schedule. This was a series opener, the ninth of the season. The Royals have won all nine.

And this one returned the Royals (17-9) to first place, by a half-game over the Tigers, who lost to the White Sox.

Vargas (3-1) turned over a 4-2 lead to the bullpen in the seventh, and this one drew closer in the eighth when Kelvin Herrera surrendered a long home run to Lonnie Chisenhall to lead off the frame.

Herrera’s last home run had been surrendered on July 26, 2013 by the White Sox’s Connor Gillaspie in Chicago.

The consecutive-inning streak without allowing a home run ended at 105 1/3, a Royals record for relief pitchers.

“I knew one day the streak was going to end,” Herrera said. “Now, I’ll start another one.”

The Royals got a perfect seventh inning from Ryan Madson and Wade Davis worked around a two-out single to collect his sixth save.

Davis worked with two-run edge when Alex Gordon, who had walked, scored on Eric Hosmer’s two-out triple into the right field corner in the eighth.

Hosmer had his fourth RBI. The first three came on one swing in the first inning, a 417-foot blast to the opposite field, splashing in the water just below the Fountain Bar in left-center field.

The shot was Hosmer’s fourth of the season and second in two weeks off Indians starter Danny Salazar, and it traveled the same path as the one he hit on April 29 at Progressive Field. The estimated distance was also a match.

“I’ll another one, same distance,” Hosmer said. “When I’m going oppo, driving the ball that way I’m in a good place.”

Yost marveled at the blast that hit an advertising sign before falling in the drink.

“I don’t know if there’s a left-hander alive who can hit a ball as far as he did,” Yost said. “I’m sure there is but I haven’t seen one.

Scoring ahead of Hosmer were Gordon, who singled through the shift and Kendrys Morales, who was hit in the foot by a Salazar pitch.

Hosmer’s bomb answered the one by Brantley, the Royals menace.

Brantley entered the game with a career. .338 batting average and .475 slugging percentage against the Royals, with a .291 average and .414 slug for his career.

Power may have been the offensive theme, but speed created the run that gave the Royals and a cushion.

Jarrod Dyson sprinted around the bases with a leadoff triple down the right field line in the fifth, and one out later, Gordon’s single through the right side drove him in.

The Royals didn’t get many good swings off Salazar (3-1), who recorded nine strikeouts against the team that entered the game having struck out the fewest times in baseball.

But Vargas was in command, and Hosmer supplied the offense. The Royals had more than enough.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @blairkerkhoff.

Royals 5, Indians 3

ClevelandAB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Kipnis 2b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.272

C.Santana 1b

3

1

0

0

1

1

.235

Brantley cf

3

1

1

2

1

0

.351

Raburn lf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.372

b-Dav.Murphy ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.240

Moss rf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.231

Swisher dh

4

0

0

0

0

2

.000

Aviles ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

.250

Chisenhall 3b

3

1

1

1

0

0

.235

R.Perez c

2

0

0

0

0

2

.191

a-Bourn ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.193

Hayes c

0

0

0

0

0

0

.111

Totals31

3

4

3

2

8

Kansas CityAB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

A.Gordon lf

3

2

2

1

1

1

.284

Moustakas 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.311

K.Morales dh

3

1

0

0

0

1

.305

Hosmer 1b

4

1

2

4

0

2

.320

S.Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

1

.313

Infante 2b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.237

Orlando rf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.254

J.Dyson cf

2

1

1

0

0

1

.250

C.Colon ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

.262

Totals29

5

6

5

1

9

Cleveland

200

000

010

3

4

0

Kansas City

300

010

01x

5

6

0

a-flied out for R.Perez in the 8th. b-lined out for Raburn in the 9th.

LOB: Cleveland 3, Kansas City 3. 2B: Kipnis (3). 3B: Hosmer (2), J.Dyson (1). HR: Brantley (2), off J.Vargas; Chisenhall (2), off K.Herrera; Hosmer (4), off Salazar. RBIs: Brantley 2 (14), Chisenhall (9), A.Gordon (14), Hosmer 4 (19). S: J.Dyson.

Runners left in scoring position: Cleveland 2 (Raburn, Swisher); Kansas City 2 (A.Gordon, S.Perez). RISP: Cleveland 0 for 4; Kansas City 2 for 6. Runners moved up: Moustakas.

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Salazar L, 3-1

7

5

4

4

0

9

115

3.81

Hagadone

2/3

1

1

1

1

0

16

3.60

Shaw

1/3

0

0

0

0

0

3

3.12

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

J.Vargas W, 3-1

6

2

2

2

2

5

82

5.26

Madson

1

0

0

0

0

1

16

1.29

K.Herrera

1

1

1

1

0

1

15

2.38

W.Davis S, 6

1

1

0

0

0

1

16

0.00

Holds: Madson (3), K.Herrera (4). Inherited runners-scored: Shaw 1-0. HBP: by Salazar (K.Morales).

Umpires: Home, Phil Cuzzi; First, Will Little; Second, Gerry Davis; Third, Tony Randazzo. Time: 2:26. Att: 29,099.

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