If you thought two losses in one day spelled doom for the 2015 Royals, think again. Monday, they bounced back with a nifty 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.
It certainly felt touch-and-go in the early going. Jason Vargas was not sharp. He battled command issues all night as he walked five. It was epidemic through his five innings. Of the 22 batters Vargas faced, he threw a first pitch strike to just nine. Yet somehow, he dodged bullets like Keanu in the Matrix. The only runs he surrendered came in the fifth on a two-run Mike Aviles home run.
We’ve seen this movie before. With he Royals bullpen, all that is required from the starter is five solid innings. While we can debate the adjectives used to describe Vargas’s performance, there is no debating the fact he battled through his issues and was able to keep his team in the game. When he turned the game over to his bullpen in the sixth, it was with a 3-2 lead. It could have been so much worse. Yet with the steady bullpen doing Royals bullpen things, four lockdown innings from Madson, Morales, Herrera and Davis where they allowed just a lone base runner between them and the Royals had their 13th win on the young season.
Naturally, no recap of Monday’s game would be complete without mentioning Mike Moustakas. Four hits! (Every writer worth his salt knows you limit – or completely omit – exclamation points, but if you can’t use them when Moustakas has four hits, you may as well remove them from the keyboard.) In true Moustakas form, he continues to go to the opposite field. He also produced the plate appearance of the season in a nine pitch battle against Corey Kluber in the seventh. With a 2-2 count, he fouled off four pitches in a row before he got a pitch up in the zone and drove it to left for a run-scoring single. Moustakas improved his plate discipline last year and saw more pitches than before. But this… This is simply astounding. Last year, he rolls that ninth pitch over and grounds out to first or second. This year, he stays back and takes it the other way. Amazing.
It’s still a small sample size againsth is 2,000-odd career plate appearance, but the longer this continues, the better you feel about eventually removing that SSS disclaimer.
Baseball is an amazing game.