KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost announced to a group of reporters before Sunday's game against the Twins that he woke up with a good feeling about his slumping left-hander Jason Vargas.Vargas had posted an 8.13 ERA since July 5, when he was named to his first All-Star Game."I
KANSAS CITY -- Royals manager Ned Yost announced to a group of reporters before Sunday's game against the Twins that he woke up with a good feeling about his slumping left-hander Jason Vargas.
Vargas had posted an 8.13 ERA since July 5, when he was named to his first All-Star Game.
"I just have a good feeling about him. I really do," Yost said.
Yost's premonition was spot on. Vargas provided his best outing since July 28 (six innings, one run) as he held the Twins to one run and four hits over five innings Sunday in an 11-3 win.
The victory pulled the Royals within 2 1/2 games of the Twins for the second American League Wild Card, but maybe just as important, it may have given Vargas a huge confidence boost heading into the season's final three weeks.
Vargas struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Yost and Vargas agreed some sessions between starts emphasized him getting the ball down in the zone.
"We were definitely able to keep the ball down, more so than we have in the past," Vargas said. "And that translated into more mis-hit balls early. The offense set us up pretty good there."
Vargas' most serious jam came in the fifth when the Twins loaded the bases with one out, down 6-1.
But Vargas got James Dozier to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play on a 2-2 curveball that catcher Salvador Perez called.
"We were trying to get him to ground into a double play," Vargas said. "Most pitches out there are called by Salvy. Not a whole lot of pitches I've shook off from Salvy."
Vargas was down to his last batter or two when he got the double play.
"I was going to give him one more batter after that, maybe have him face [Joe] Mauer," Yost said, "but that was it."
And now the Royals have crawled back into the thick of the Wild Card chase.
"We got a lot riding on all of these games," Vargas said. "Can't afford to lose many."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.