KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' strongest hope to even a pivotal series at one game apiece with the Indians on Saturday rested on the reliable left arm of Jason Vargas, who had dominated the Tribe in three starts this year, posting a 0.87 ERA. Since 2015, Vargas was 6-1 with
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' strongest hope to even a pivotal series at one game apiece with the Indians on Saturday rested on the reliable left arm of Jason Vargas, who had dominated the Tribe in three starts this year, posting a 0.87 ERA. Since 2015, Vargas was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA against the Indians.
But as has been the growing trend among Royals starters lately, Vargas couldn't even make it out of the fifth inning. The Indians tagged him for six hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings in the Royals' 5-0 loss, which pushed Kansas City to 7 1/2 games out of first in the American League Central and 1 1/2 games from the second Wild Card spot.
Vargas clearly was frustrated with his performance afterward.
"You're in a position with a couple of series [against Cleveland] close together when you can close the gap," Vargas said. "And we did just the opposite. But there's a lot of talent in this room. When we get on a good run, we're still a hard team to beat."
Vargas got nicked in the first inning for a run on back-to-back doubles from Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez.
But Vargas, who struck out seven, seemed to settle down until the fourth, when the Indians loaded the bases with one out. That's when Vargas made a huge pitch, striking out Brandon Guyer with a 3-2 fastball.
But Vargas then hung a changeup to Roberto Perez, who poked a two-run single to left, and the Tribe had more than enough runs to win.
"It's frustrating when you do things to get yourself in position to get out of it and then you just make a mistake," Vargas said. "I just feel like it's been happening too often lately.
"I don't have anything wrong with the mindset of what we're doing there. Just a failure to execute."
Vargas gave up a run-scoring double to Jay Bruce in the fifth, which ended his night.
"I just made mistakes with offspeed pitches up in the zone when it really counted," Vargas said. "I was able to get out of some jams with good pitches. But I left some pitches up."
Royals manager Ned Yost, who has watched his rotation post a near 6.00 ERA in August, actually was encouraged a bit by Vargas' latest effort.
"He was exactly where he needed to be command-wise," Yost said. "But it was more about their ability to lay off pitches."
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.