KC Royals Avoid Disaster in 3-1 Victory over Pittsburgh Pirates


7. Final. 1. 4. 3

Tonight had all the makings of a disaster for the KC Royals. Jason Vargas, fresh off the disabled list, left early with an elbow injury. With Gerrit Cole, the ace of the Pirates, on the mound, things did not seem promising for the Royals. Instead, the bullpen came through and the Royals used some late inning magic en route to a 3-1 victory.

The Royals caught a break early on. Starling Marte led off the second inning with what appeared to be a home run, but hit off the top of the padding on the left field wall before bouncing over. After review, the home run was reversed and changed to a ground rule double, keeping the Pirates off the board.

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That euphoria did not last long. Vargas struck out the next batter before a stolen base and a walk put runners at the corners. Vargas threw a 2-0 curve for a strike, and turned about a bit, moving his arm about before getting back on the mound. One pitch later, and he walked off the mound towards the dugout before he was removed with an elbow injury. According to Jeff Passan, the pain is on the medial side of his elbow, where the UCL happens to be located.

And so, with runners on the corners and a 3-1 count, in came Joe Blanton, who had been napalm as of late. This time, Blanton proved to be up to the task, striking out Brent Morel and Chris Stewart to end the threat.

From that point, the game became a battle between Cole and the KC Royals bullpen. Blanton matched Cole inning for inning before giving way to Ryan Madson in the sixth. In his 3.2 innings, Blanton allowed only two hits while striking out five, saving the bullpen and performing quite admirably as he kept the Pirates off the board.

The Pirates had another scoring chance in the eighth. A base hit and a walk put runners on first and second with one out, and after a fly out to left, Wade Davis was summoned to face Andrew McCutchen. Davis, who could be having the best season of any pitcher in baseball history, fanned McCutchen to end the threat and preserve the scoreless tie.

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The KC Royals broke the game open in the bottom of the inning as the Pirates deense let Cole down. Omar Infante reached on an error, and moved to third on Alex Rios‘ single. Rios advanced to second on the throw to third, bringing up Jarrod Dyson. Dyson singled to right, and as Gregory Polanco dropped the ball, moved up to second. He then stole third, and scored on Alcides Escobar‘s base hit to right, giving the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Pittsburgh made it interesting against Greg Holland in the ninth. Marte reached on an infield single, and when Jung-Ho Kang followed with a double, attempted to score. Instead, Lorenzo Cain continued his quest to make the center field Gold Glove a fait accompli by gunning down Marte at the plate, preserving the shutout. After a strikeout, Travis Ishikawa singled to plate Kang, putting the Pirates on teh board. A walk and an infield single loaded the bases, but Holland was able to get out of the jam by striking out Polanco as the Royals took a 3-1 victory.

Wade Davis earned the win with his one out, one strikeout performance, as he moved to 6-1 on the year. Rios continued his torrid July, as he was 2-3 with a double and a run scored.

Next: Royals Option Yordano Ventura to Omaha