The Kansas City Royals received two things that they have become known for tonight – excellent starting pitching from Jason Vargas and great defense. However, it was the third, a surprising home run barrage, that proved to be the difference in the Royals 9-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Jason Vargas was in control from the start of the game, scattering hits over the first two innings before the Royals defense began to make their presence felt. With one out and a runner on first, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sinking line drive to right, which Lorenzo Cain caught on a short hop. Alertly, Cain threw to second for the force out, then caught a deep line drive in right center for the third out of the inning.
Conversely, the Indians defense, which had committed the most errors in the American League, failed them in the bottom of the inning. With one out and runners at first and second, Jarrod Dyson hit a ground ball to second. Jason Kipnis flipped the ball to Cabrera in an attempt to start the double play; however, Cabrera dropped the ball, loading the bases. Omar Infante dropped a base hit to center, scoring Mike Moustakas for the Royals first run of the game. An RBI ground out and a two run single by Billy Butler gave the Royals a 4-0 lead.
That appeared to be more than enough for Vargas, who began to cruise through the Indians lineup. Vargas also helped himself defensively, making two excellent plays on the mound, including a nice play on a ground ball to start a 1-6-3 double play to end the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, the Royals power started to appear. Eric Hosmer ripped a two run home run to right center on a hard hit ball that just cleared the fence, giving the Royals a 6-0 lead. As virtually untouchable as Vargas had been, a six run lead appeared to be virtually insurmountable.
However, Jason Vargas tired in the top of the eighth. At over 110 pitches with two outs in the inning, Vargas gave up a base hit to Cabrera before hitting Michael Brantley for a second time. Jason Kipnis followed with a two run double, ending Vargas’s night and bringing on Tim Collins to try to end the threat. Instead, Collins gave up an RBI single to Carlos Santana, and was replaced by Aaron Crow, who got Yan Gomes to fly out to finally end the inning.
The Royals power bats got those runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Alex Gordon led off the inning with a bullet to right for his team leading seventh home run, and Mike Moustakas crushed a home run off the foul pole in right to give the Royals a 9-3 lead.
However, the Indians would not go away, hitting consecutive singles to start the ninth inning. David Murphy followed with a line drive that Cain lost in the lights, dropping in for an RBI double. A sacrifice fly cut the lead to 9-5, but that was the closest the Indians would come as Crow struck out Brantley to end the game.
Jason Vargas got the win, allowing three runs on six hits and three hit batters, striking out five in 7.2 innings of work. Those three hit batsmen tied a Royals single game high.
Dyson, Hosmer and Butler each had two hits in the victory.