Vargas Leads Royals to Series Win over Twins
As they approach the time of year in which they saw themselves surge a season ago, the Royals completed one of the things that helped them make their climb in 2013 – winning games against the Twins.
Behind Jason Vargas (8-3) and a dominant bullpen, Kansas City earned their first shutout in Minnesota since 2006. The Royals’ southpaw was sharp and consistent the whole way through, striking out five and allowing just six baserunners in his seven innings. Wade Davis and Greg Holland worked the eighth and ninth innings with ease; a two-out walk issued by Holland proved to be the only baserunner the Twins got off of either.
Last Friday, Vargas had one of his worst outings as a Royal, giving up six runs in four innings of work against the Angels. His ability to bounce back is one of the reasons why he’s managing to have such a good year so far – in the game following each of Vargas’ three worst starts of the year, he now has a minuscule 0.45 ERA.
After getting swept in a forgettable early season series, the Royals have won four of the last six contests against Minnesota. They were 15-4 against the Twins a season ago, which set a club record for the most wins against any team in a single season. In the midst of a nine-game road trip against three losing clubs, a second straight series victory was a positive result for the Royals. Now winners of four of their last six, Kansas City is back to four games over .500 and continues to keep pace with the first place Tigers.
The Royals gave Vargas some early run support when Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson singled home second-inning runs. Those two runs would prove to be all Kansas City manufactured off of Kevin Correia (4-10), who managed to give the Twins six solid innings in the process.
With the score still holding in the eighth, the newly acquired Raul Ibanez provided the Royals with some insurance. Facing Casey Fien, he drove a 2-1 fastball to the porch in right field for his first home run as a Royals since 2003. At 42, Ibanez became the oldest player in Royals history to homer. It was the fourth homer of the season for Ibanez, with the first three coming in the time he spent with the Los Angeles Angels.
In the ninth, Eric Hosmer continued his recent trend of success by singling home Alcides Escobar for the team’s fourth run. After going 4-4 last night, Hosmer reached base in four of his five plate appearances Wednesday afternoon, going 1-2 with three walks. After being crushed for lack of plate discipline, Hosmer’s last two games are certainly encouraging for Royals fans.
For the Twins, they had about as poor of an offensive performance as you can have. Only seven men reached all afternoon (four hits, three walks) and nobody made it to third base. Vargas kept them in check all afternoon; he only allowed two baserunners in an inning one time. Davis and Holland slammed the door to nail down Kansas City’s 44th win of the season.
Billy Butler was 0-5 with three strikeouts, completing a disaster of a series for him. In six games at Target Field this season, Butler is 0-22 with four double plays and one RBI. He was the only Kansas City starter that failed to reach base with either a walk or a strikeout.
The second-place Royals look to keep winning series when they head to Cleveland for a three game set with the Indians. After an off day tomorrow, Yordano Ventura (5-7, 3.26 ERA) will oppose Josh Tomlin (5-5, 3.78) in the opener on Friday night.