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Vargas and the Angels Shut Down Woeful Royals

Angels crush four home runs en route to dominating the Kansas City Nine.

Jeremy Guthrie would be damned if he was going to let anyone break his winning streak other than himself. At least that would seem to have been the case in the wake of Tuesday night's loss in Anaheim. Guthrie labored through the first three innings, working around a walk in each of the first three innings and two singles in the third before the Angels ran into two separate outs at third, first on Chris Iannetta's ill-advised attempt to go first-to-third on a bunt-single--yes, you read that correctly, the Angels' catcher tried to go first-to-third on a bunt single that Moustakas and Perez were following up the third base line in the hopes of it running foul. Shockingly then, J.B. Shuck got thrown out trying to take third on a ball in the dirt after being moved into scoring position by an Erick Aybar single to shallow left, foolishly electing to challenge Salvador Perez's arm at third base.

Guthrie's rough but damage-free first three innings were quickly rendered pointless as Guthrie proceeded to allow a career-worst four home runs over the next four innings. Somewhat fortunately for the Royals all four of those dongs were of the solo variety, with Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick going deep in the fourth, Josh Hamilton taking Guthrie out in the sixth, and Mike Trout adding his name to the list in the seventh. The Angels added a run in the fifth by way of a Mike Trout sac-fly.

Frankly, the damage could have been much worse. The Angels got to Guthrie for 11 hits, three walks, and five earned runs. Given the fact that Guthrie failed to record even one out via the strikeout while allowing four home runs, it is nearly miraculous that the Angels only scored five runs off of the 14 base-runners the Angels had in the first seven innings of this game. Aaron Crow came in to throw in the eighth and ceded a sixth Angel run, which would prove to be more than enough to hold off the Royals.

For their part, the Royals offense was made to look foolish by Jason Vargas, who had allowed five earned runs in three of his previous six starts. Vargas had been sporting a sub-5.50 K/9 heading into action on Tuesday only to strike out seven Royals in his seven innings pitched. Billy Butler provided the Royals with virtually all of their offense, driving in the first run of the game in the top of the fourth when he doubled in Alcides Escobar. He scored the other Royals run in the top of the sixth with a 413-foot opposite-field dong hanging of the authoritative variety. Unfortunately, that was only the fourth-hardest hit ball in the game, and the three that were hit farther were clubbed by Angels. The two runs Butler drove in would account for all of the Royals output.

Jeff Francoeur, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas looked particularly bad at the plate, going a combined 0 - 12. Only Lorenzo Cain was able to garner a walk for the Royals, though he accounted for three of Vargas's seven Ks in a hitless night. He managed a stolen base but was ultimately stranded at third. The paltry six-hit, one-walk output of the Royals offense while facing a less than spectacular Jason Vargas put their impotence on display once again. The Royals have now scored more runs than only the White Sox and Mariners in the American League. They now hold sole possession of last place in the AL in both walks drawn (83) and home runs (26).