Jason Vargas gave up just two runs, but could only last 5 2/3 innings as the Royals fell to the Rays 4-3. The Royals scored just one run over the first eight innings of baseball against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson and four Rays relievers. Hellickson, making his first start of the season due to injury, was pulled in the fifth inning after 84 pitches. The Royals managed one run off him in the fifth when Salvador Perez's RBI groundout scored Lorenzo Cain. Cain had a fantastic night, with four hits and a walk, the fourth four-hit performance he has had this year. Since moving into the leadoff spot full-time on June 22, Cain is hitting .344/.375/.492 in 15 games.
Vargas would run into trouble in the sixth when Evan Longoria singled home two runs to give the Rays a 2-1 lead. The Royals challenged in the eighth when Omar Infante and Mike Moustakas singled with one out. But Billy Butler was not clutch, and even though he didn't hit into a double play, he flied out. Maybe if he weren't hitting so high in the lineup he wouldn't have the chance to blow the game. Pinch-hitter Danny Valencia flied out to end the threat.
Francisley Bueno was tabbed to pitch the bottom of the eighth for reason that are not quite clear as the first two hitters were right-handed. After a Brandon Guyer single and an Evan Longoria force out, it was a left-handed hitter who did the damage as James Loney doubled home a run. A Logan Forsythe sacrifice fly would give the Rays a 4-1 lead going into the ninth.
The Rays have had a closer-by-committee this year, and Jake McGee was left in to for the ninth. After an Alcides Escobar strikeout, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer both had hits to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. A two-run Salvador Perez single brought the Royals to within one run. But there was no joy in St. Petersburg, Alex Gordon and Omar Infant were retired to end the thread. The Royals collected thirteen hits and managed just three runs.
Not enough power? No, not enough clutch.