All eyes were on Kansas City Royals second baseman, Omar Infante, who was hit in the jaw by a pitch in the seventh inning. His status is unknown. Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Royals lefty Jason Vargas notched his first victory in a Royals uniform by baffling the Tampa Bay Rays en route to a 4-2 win.
Vargas weaved pitches in, out, up and down in tossing eight shutout innings before yielding a lead-off home run to Ben Zobrist in the ninth. Vargas was a stingy as the crowd was sparse, as 12,087 watched the crafty veteran give up only four hits and one walk with two strike outs.
The Royals got all the insurance they needed when Alcides Escobar hit a two-out, 3-run double off the left field wall in the sixth. For Escobar, it was his second hit of the season, and he gave Vargas and the Royals all the breathing room they needed after making one run scored in the first stand up through the first five frames.
The Royals jumped on Rays starter Matt Moore early. Nori Aoki led off the bottom of the first with triple over the head of left fielder Sean Rodriguez. With one out, Eric Hosmer sliced a single between third and short to put the Royals up 1-0.
Vargas looked like Sandy Koufax early, striking out Desmond Jennings and Will Meyers to start the game. Those would be his last strikeouts. Instead, Vargas pitched more like himself, working around a lead off double by Evan Longoria in the second and a first-and-third with two outs in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Alex Gordon singled on a line drive to right. Heath Bell replaced Cesar Ramos who had come in in the fifth to replace Moore, who left with elbow soreness. Salvador Perez singled, moving Gordon to second. After Mike Moustakas struck out, Lorenzo Cain reached safely on a slow bouncer to shortstop. That’s when the unlikeliest offense hero for the Royals, Escobar, turned on a 1-0 pitch and drove it off the wall in the left field corner, clearing the bases, making the score 4-0, helping move the Royals back to .500 with a 3-3 record.
NOTABLES: Omar Infante was hit by a pitch in the jaw leading off the seventh. He was helped off the field. Greg Holland gave up one earned run in the ninth and recorded his third save. Jason Vargas threw 110 pitches. The Royals called up Donnie Joseph and Michael Mariot from Triple-A Omaha after placing relievers Tim Collins and Francisley Bueno on the disabled list. Salvador Perez raised his batting average to .444. The combined batting of the Royals third base position through six games is 1-for-22 (Mike Moustakas 0-18, Danny Valencia 1-4).
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Kansas City Royals, 7:10 p.m. Chris Archer (1-0, 3.00) vs. Yordano Ventura (0-0, 0.00).