It seems like so long ago that Jason Vargas had the lowest ERA in the league. Or even when he was just an All-Star. Less than two months ago, Vargas went into the All-Star break with a 3.06 ERA and has since seen that number jump almost a full run to 3.87 tonight.
His post-All-Star break struggles continued into tonight, giving up three home runs in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Rays. The loss gave Vargas defeats in five of his last six starts.
Vargas started his night cleanly, retiring the first seven batters he faced, before Adeiny Hechavarria ended the perfecto with a solo home run in the 3rd.
Peter Bourjos followed with walk and moved to third on a Kevin Kiermaier single, before being driven in by Steven Souza Jr. on another single, putting the Rays up 2-0. Evan Longoria then hit a sac fly to center field, boosting the Rays lead to 3-0.
The Royals responded immediately, however, with Cheslor Cuthbert leading off with a walk and advancing to second on Alcides Escobar’s bunt single.
Good baseball player Whit Merrifield was tired of the Rays leading 3-0, so he took matters into his own hands by blasting a three-run homer to left field, tying the game at 3-3.
Vargas, however, was never able to get back into a groove. Vargas was able to strand two base runners in the 4th to keep the game tied, but gave up a pair of solo home runs to Souza Jr. and Logan Morrison in the 5th. The homers gave the lead back to the Rays at 5-3, a score that would prove to be final.
As Vargas struggled, the Royals offense also struggled, managing just five hits. Three of those hits came in the Royals three-run 3rd. Kansas City went quietly after the Rays reclaimed the lead in the 5th, with Tampa Bay pitching retiring 21 of the last 24 Kansas City batters.
A one-out single from Salvador Perez did put the tying run on first with just one out in the 9th for Mike Moustakas, who has been sitting at 35 home runs for 11 games. A home run would have not only tied the game, but also put Moustakas into a tie for the Royals all-time home run record with Steve Balboni at 36.
However, Rays closer Alex Colome would strike out both Moustakas and Bonifacio to end the game and drop the Royals to 65-67. Kansas City also closes out a dreadful August, finishing the month with a 10-18 record.
The Royals will get a much needed off day tomorrow and start a huge seven-game road trip on Friday with an even more huge four-game set against the Twins.
Up Next: Royals at Twins, Friday, September 1, 2017, 7:10 PM CDT, Target Field. RHP Jason Hammel (6-10, 4.76 ERA) v. Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.53 ERA).