Vargas, reticent Moose lift Royals over .500
MAY 14, 2014 6:20p ET
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A day after Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas appeared to get a reprieve from a trip to the minors, he ripped two doubles, including the game-winning three-run double in a 3-2 win over Colorado. But Moustakas was in no mood to talk about his hitting when he was surrounded by several TV cameras and radio microphones afterward.
Moustakas simply answered each question about his two-double day by saying, "Vargie (Jason Vargas) pitched great for us. He pitched a fantastic game ...."
This went on through several attempts by reporters to get Moose to talk about his offense. Each time he referred to Vargas' outing.
When the cameras and microphones cleared out, Moose did chat with a few writers later, though he didn't offer that much more about his day.
"Look, I get that I got two hits and all that," he said. "But this was really about Vargas today. If he doesn't pitch that well, my hits (don't matter)."
Moose also said he took "zero" satisfaction in getting two hits after Tuesday's turmoil.
The Royals moved to 20-19.
"It's great to be over .500," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "Now we just have to stay over .500."
-- Sal's cannon comes in handy. The Rockies were threatening in the sixth after a leadoff bloop single to left by Charlie Culberson, a groundout and a pop bunt single by Brandon Barnes. Runners were on first and third with two out and the dangerous Carlos Gonzalez was up when catcher Sal Perez saw Culberson getting too big of a secondary lead off third base. Perez unleashed a laser throw on the second pitch to Gonzalez to Moustakas, who sneaked in behind Culberson and tagged him out for the third out. A huge play.
"That was all between Moose and Sal," manager Ned Yost said. "What was great was how Moose got back to the bag so fast because he was playing way off."
Vargas agreed. "We really needed that," he said. "Just a huge play by Moose to get to the bag and make the tag. Great throw from Salvy."
-- Moose going oppo. Maybe the best part of Moustakas' day was his second double. He spotted the defense in the shift, saw the area around third base open and shot an outside slider down the left-field line for a double. The Rockies did not employ the shift on his final at-bat.
"The way Moose was able to do that was because his hands were loose," Yost said. "If his hands are loose, he can stay relaxed and get down after those low pitches and shoot the ball the other way."
-- Vargas can deal. An opposing scout marveled Vargas' outing. "The best part about him is he hits his spots and he works fast," the scout said. "Everyone stays on top of their game. No one is standing around."
Vargas struck out a season-high eight and went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just two runs, for the win. "I don't even pay attention too much to the strikeouts," he said. "Some days I get more than others."
-- Costly misplay. Pedro Ciriaco came in for Johnny Giavotella at second base in the seventh inning, in theory for his defense. But Ciriaco was in the middle of a bad defensive play that cost the Royals two runs.
With one out, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado lifted a towering popup beyond second base and into short right-center field. It appeared that either center fielder Lorenzo Cain or right fielder Nori Aoki had a rather easy play on it, but Ciriaco kept calling for the ball as he backpedaled. Ciriaco, though, never got that close to it and as the three fielders converged, the ball fell, actually hitting Cain on the foot. It was ruled a double. The shame of it was that Vargas wound up giving up a two-run homer to Drew Stubbs with two outs -- Vargas never should have had to face Stubbs.
Asked afterward if the ball should have been caught, Yost said emphatically: "Yes. But I don't know by who. I don't know if it was a miscommunication between Nori and Ciriaco or what. Cain was playing shaded to left-center. But yes, should have been caught."
-- Another run lost on the bases. Moustakas was thrown out in the second inning trying to advance to third base on a pitch that got away from catcher Michael McKenry. Moose was gunned down rather easily. That cost the Royals a run because Alcides Escobar followed with a double. Ouch.
-- Don't argue close pitches. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was tossed out of the game in the sixth inning when he argued after getting called out on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to nick the inside corner. It certainly was too close to take, and way too close to gripe about.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.