Two weeks ago in Kansas City, the Royals outscored the New York Yankees 19-6 while winning the series. Now, here in New York, the AL East leading Yankees are returning the favor. On the night after Jeremy Guthrie turned in a historically bad performance before a national audience and on the day it was announced that the KC Royals are dominating the early All-Star balloting, the Boys in Blue were looking for a strong bounce back game from Jason Vargas as he made his return to the rotation after being activated off the Disabled List.
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Although the night did not begin well for Vargas, as he surrendered a first inning two run home run to Mark Teixeira, by all accounts the 32-year old left hander did what was expected of him and put his team in a position to be at least be competitive in the middle game of this three game set. The problem was that no one else for Kansas City followed suit. Vargas delivered four innings while only surrendering two runs on four hits while fanning six before departing in the 5th inning due to pitch count limitations with his team trailing only 2-0.
After Vargas departed, however, the wheels completely fell of for Kansas City as the Joe Blanton reclamation project suffered a major set-back as the 34-year old promptly yielded three runs in the 5th inning as the New York lead swelled to 5-0.
Meanwhile the Royals offense continued to sputter as Yankee pitcher Adam Warren continued his personal string of strong starts by pitching 6.1 dominant innings while allowing one run on two hits. By the time Warren departed in the seventh inning with a 5-1 the outcome of this game was a foregone conclusion and while the Royals were able to string a couple of singles together in the ninth inning they were well on their way to their first three game losing skid of the season.
The only bright moments for the Boys in Blue came in the form of A-MA-ZING defensive plays by Center Fielder (and All-Star Vote Leader) Lorenzo Cain and Second Baseman Omar Infante and the first big league homerun by Paulo Orlando.
The good news for the KC Royals is that tomorrow is another day and they have Chris Young on the hill and they are still in first place in the American League Central. Otherwise, this was the third consecutive sub-optimal showing from the AL Central leaders. In the coming days the Royals will need to answer the question if these past few games are simply an anomaly that will quickly be rectified or if the flaws that are being displayed are a sign of deeper underlying issues with this ballclub.