The Kansas City Royals are looking more and more like sellers after a 10-2 loss to Detroit in the first of a four-game set with the Tigers.
Inside a hospital room in the intensive care unit, Ned Yost and Dayton Moore pace back and forth quietly mumbling to themselves.
Every few minutes one or the other sits down and looks longingly at the patient in the bed—the Kansas City Royals season.
Over the loudspeaker, an announcement can be heard.
“Paging Dr. Vargas. Dr. Vargas to ICU.”
Dr. Jason Vargas—fresh off his first All-Star Game—has been tasked with breathing life back into the Royals season. He enters the room knowing his task won’t be easy with the team’s season barely hanging on.
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“I’ll do my best,” Vargas probably says to Yost and Moore before heading out to pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
In the first inning, Vargas gets into and out of and back into and finally completely out of trouble. The Royals trail just 1-0.
In the third inning, Mikie Mahtook also takes Vargas deep. Another triple by Kinsler finally chases Vargas. He exits with the Royals behind 6-0.
Three innings. That’s all it took for Dr. Vargas (with a lack of help from his assistants) to force the Royals season on to life support.
OK, that might be a little harsh and a little hasty. But the Royals (45-46) have not looked like a team that can legitimately contend for a postseason berth during their recent 1-6 skid.
Of course, this is the team that went 6-1 just before the recent downturn. One of those wins was actually Vargas’ previous start against Seattle.
Like Monday’s game, Vargas (12-4) gave up six runs in the first three innings against the Mariners. Unlike Monday’s game, the Royals offense showed up and bailed him out with a 9-6 win in 10 innings.
Kansas City Royals
After scoring just seven total runs in three games against Texas over the weekend, Kansas City pushed across just a single run against Jordan Zimmermann on Monday. Over 6 2/3 innings, Zimmermann (6-7) gave up seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts after entering the game with a 6.99 ERA on the road this season.
That was it.
To add injury to insult, Alcides Escobar took a pitch from Zimmermann off his left wrist in the seventh inning and had to leave the game. Later in the same inning, Warwick Saupold plunked Jorge Bonifacio on the right forearm. Although Bonifacio stayed in the game.
The Royals bullpen did an admirable job limiting the damage on Monday.
Scott Alexander, who replaced Vargas in the third, allowed just one run in 2 1/3 innings, while Brandon McCarthy allowed just an unearned run in his two frames. After a scoreless inning from Al Alburquerque against his former club, Neftali Feliz—fresh off paternity leave—gave up a pair of runs in the ninth.
With Dr. Vargas unable to stop the bleeding (See what I did there.), Travis Wood—yes, the same Travis Wood with a 6.06 ERA this year—is tasked with getting the Royals back on track as he faces Matthew Boyd on Tuesday night.
Talk about a scary prognosis.