Today it took 8 pitches before the Angels scored their first run. Jason Vargas walked Cameron Maybin on 7 pitches and then Kole Calhoun hit a middle-middle fastball deep into right field and off the very top of the wall leading into the tunnel. Mike Scioscia tried to argue that it was a home run but umpire review determined it really was off the top of the wall and back into the field of play for an RBI double. 2 groundball outs later Andrelton Simmons made the point moot by driving Calhoun home with a single into left.
For his part, JC Ramirez recorded each of his first 6 outs via strike out. He did labor though, throwing plenty of pitches, and when the lineup turned over things did not go so well for him. Ramon Torres - who had singled to lead off the game - led off the third inning with a double. Jorge Bonifacio got a flyout to right - the first out recorded by the Angels on a ball in play - then Cain and Hosmer managed to lay off the inside fastballs and low sliders. Salvador Perez flew out to shallow right.
Up came Mike Moustakas with 2 outs and the bases loaded, down by 2. He drove a 2-1 pitch just past the outstretched glove of Calhoun into right center to drive in 3 runs and flip the lead with one swing of the bat.
The Royals loaded the bases again in the fourth inning but Lorenzo Cain struck out, then Eric Hosmer hit a sharp, deep flyball to right to score Alex Gordon on the sacrifice fly. That was Eric’s 500th RBI and padded the Royals’ lead up to 4-2. Then Salvador Perez got a hold of a 97-MPH low-away fastball and launched it over the centerfield fence to blow the game open 7-2 and assure Royals fans that yesterday’s shut out was merely a fluke.
Vargas cruised from the second inning - which only required 6 pitches to escape - through the fifth inning. In the sixth inning he loaded the bases with no outs but got a shallow flyball, a normal distance flyball, and a foul popup to escape the inning only allowing 1 run. His final line on the day was 6 innings pitched, 3 runs allowed, 3 strike outs, and 2 walks.
Peter Moylan and Scott Alexander combined for 2.1 innings of not-nearly perfect relief; they allowed 4 hits plus a walk between them and both seemed to be in constant danger. But they preserved the lead - didn’t even allow a run - so they did their jobs sufficiently well. Ned did as Ned does and asked Kelvin Herrera to come in once it became a save situation with one out and two on in the ninth inning. Herrera convinced Albert Pujols to hit his second pitch into a double play ball to Moose to collect his fifteenth save of the season.
Salvy was wincing as he swung again in the ninth inning, but convinced Ned Yost to leave him in for some reason. That’s something to keep an eye on as we continue forward.
Today wasn’t Jason Vargas’ best start, but it was plenty good enough to collect his major-league leading tenth win, today. The shutout yesterday appears to be more of a blip than the start of a new trend. The Royals did what I demanded of them in last Sunday’s game thread and won 7 games on this roadtrip; they did what I asked of them today and avoided the beginning of a losing streak. In short, things are looking up. The Royals will start a series against the very good Boston Red Sox tomorrow night and hope to show off their improved offense in front of the home crowd against a team that’s actually good.