Vargas, Royals cool off Twins’ bats
By Dan Myers
MINNEAPOLIS — There’s something about pitching against the Minnesota Twins this season that works for Kansas City Royals right-hander Jason Vargas.
For the second time this season, Vargas tossed seven shutout innings against Minnesota, scattering four hits and walking two Wednesday in a 4-0 win and series victory over the Twins.
Vargas allowed more than one runner in an inning only once, when an infield single and two-out walk in the fourth amounted to Minnesota’s lone offensive threat. Vargas got a groundout to end the inning and retired 12 of 13 batters after that — including the final eight batters he faced. Minnesota didn’t get a runner past second base all day.
“I was able to keep the ball down early and that helped me later when I was able to elevate with a couple of pitches,” Vargas said.
Royals manager Ned Yost said, “He was sharp. He was commanding his fastball. The (strike) zone was tight, but he did a great job of working within that and changing speeds with his change-up. He and (catcher Salvador Perez) had a good plan and they executed it.”
One bad inning was enough to doom Twins starter Kevin Correia. The veteran right-hander pitched six innings of two-run ball but allowed four hits, a walk and both runs in a long second inning. He recovered and allowed only two singles the rest of the way.
“Just tried to get the ball down,” Correia said. “That second inning went a little rough on me. Just didn’t want to give it. It was early and it was only two runs. I knew we were still in the ballgame.”
Correia retired eight of the final nine batters he faced to keep the Twins in the game through six innings, but Minnesota never mounted a counterattack.
Correia took the loss despite throwing his fourth quality start in his last five outings, dropping to 4-10. The 10 losses are two more than any other pitcher in the American League.
“We didn’t get many runners on to begin with,” Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. “We’re streaky in all aspects right now. We have to start putting it all together. We gotta hit and we’re not doing it.”
Perez led off the second inning with a single and second baseman Omar Infante doubled into the seats down the right field line to put two men on with one out. Back-to-back RBI singles by third baseman Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson made it 2-0.
Kansas City added single runs in each the eighth and ninth innings, including a solo homer by right fielder Raul Ibanez in the eighth. The home run was his fourth of the season but first with the Royals since signing with the team on Monday.
“They’ve got some guys in the lineup that can change the game pretty quick, especially when it’s a 2-0 ballgame and they score just as easy from first as they do from third when the ball goes over the wall,” Vargas said. “You know where you’re at, but you have to bear down because you can get yourself in trouble quick.”
One day after going 4-for-4 at the dish, first baseman Eric Hosmer went 1-for-2 but walked three times. He has reached base in eight of his last nine plate appearances.
“I’m not swinging at bad pitches, just staying in my zone,” Hosmer said. “That’s really all you can do when you’re scuffling a little bit, just slow things down and make sure you get your pitch.”
Wade Davis pitched a spotless eighth for the Royals in front of closer Greg Holland, who worked the ninth in a non-save situation.
NOTES: The Royals optioned RHP Michael Mariot back to Triple-A Omaha and recalled RHP Casey Coleman. ... The Twins placed 1B Joe Mauer on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique. ... Minnesota recalled 1B/OF Chris Colabello from Triple-A Rochester. Colabello hit .232 with four homers and 30 RBIs through mid-May before being optioned to Rochester earlier this season. ... With a first-inning single, Twins 1B Chris Parmelee extended his career-long hitting streak to 12 games. ... Minnesota announced the signing of 16-year-old international prospect RHP Huascar Ynoa to a $800,000 deal.