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Jason Vargas shuts out Indians

The 4-0 Royals win was fueled by an amazing performance by Cy Vargas.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night, Jason Vargas put his name on this short list: Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, and Ervin Santana. That’s the complete list of pitchers with seven wins at this point in the season.

Vargas was dynamic on Friday night, firing a seven-hit shutout of the Cleveland Indians to spark a 4-0 Royals win. His magical season continued, his ERA is down to 2.08, and he led his team to a win they desperately needed.

Friday night was a pitcher’s duel, but it was one of the quickest games of the season. Jason Vargas, who is having a fantastic season, matched Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, who typically sucks but is Greg Maddux against the Royals pitch for pitch. By the time the game was two hours old, it was already the bottom of the seventh inning.

Neither pitcher allowed a run through the first five-and-a-half innings. Vargas scattered plenty of baserunners, but he used four double plays to keep the Indians off the scoreboard. Maybe McDonald’s will give out free McDoubles or something, because that’s something.

Someone finally blinked in the sixth inning, and it was Tomlin...sort of. The Royals scored a run in the Royal-est way possible. Alcides Escobar hit a single, which solidifies his spot as the team’s leadoff hitter for the next six weeks. He advanced to second on a wild pitch. He went to third on a groundout. And then Lorenzo Cain hit like, a 30-foot dribbler between the third baseman and the pitcher. He was wrongly called out before a challenge reversed the call, giving Cain an RBI single. 1-0, Royals.

In the home half of the seventh inning, the Royals did the unthinkable: they scored a second run off Tomlin. Jorge Bonifacio missed a home run by inches when he doubled to left, and with two outs, Whit Merrifield picked a great time to extend his hitting streak. He shot a double to deep left to pick up a hit for the 17th straight game. 2-0, Royals.

One run was surprising. Two was unthinkable. Three? That’s just crazy talk. But that’s what the Royals did, putting up a third run against the mighty Tomlin in the eighth inning. Mike Moustakas smashed a solo homer to right, his 14th of the year, to give Vargas an even bigger cushion. He’s on pace for 43 homers this year. Look out, Balboni.

Eric Hosmer added further insurance by blasting an RBI double off the Cleveland bullpen.

Vargas’ final line: 9.0 innings, seven hits, one walk, and three Ks. He needed a mere 103 pitches. He earned the win to improve to 7-3 on the year. It was amazing how effortless he made pitching look. He had a four-pitch inning. He made a fantastic athletic play to rob Francisco Lindor in the ninth. And here’s the amazing part: he did it with only three strikeouts. 24 of his 27 outs were put in play. He was an absolute ground ball machine, which is what he usually is when he’s at his best.

Cleveland had first-and-third with one out in the first inning, but Vargas got Carlos Santana to hit into a double play to end the threat. That was pretty much the only time the Indians ever threatened.

It’s the seventh big-league shutout for Vargas, and his second as a Royal. The last time a Kansas City pitcher did it was that Johnny Cueto Kauffman debut game.

Tomlin was pretty good as well, but he always is against the Royals. I mean, seriously, this is a guy with a career ERA of 4.67 and 52 total wins, yet he’s beaten Kansas City 10 freaking times. He allowed seven hits and three runs in 7.1 innings, fanning five and throwing 93 pitches.

The Royals are 23-30, improving to 4-3 on the year against the defending AL champions. Tomorrow, they will go for the series, but the pitching matchup isn’t encouraging on paper. Jason Hammel (1-6, 6.18 ERA) will oppose Carlos Carrasco (5-2, 2.89). It’s Alex Gordon bobblehead day. I hear the demand for that is going to be off the charts. If he makes three more outs, his slugging percentage will go below .200. Slugging.