Royals, Vargas will try to cool hot Cardinals bats
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The St. Louis Cardinals’ offense is on a roll, and the Kansas City Royals felt the brunt of that Monday night.
After scoring 13 runs Sunday in Cincinnati, the Cardinals kept raking Monday to thump the Royals 11-3.
The teams meet again Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium in the second game of a four-game series split between the two Missouri rivals. The series shifts to St. Louis on Wednesday.
“It’s not realistic that you’re going to score 10 every night, but if we get on a stretch where we’re putting up five, six, with our starting pitching, we’ve got a chance every night,” said Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter, who hit a three-run homer Monday.
Carpenter is batting .451 at Kauffman Stadium, including going 4-for-4 on June 4, 2014, off Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, who starts Tuesday.
The Cardinals have been dominant in Kansas City, where they are 33-19. The game Monday was a sellout with an announced attendance of 38,478, which included a heavy sprinkling of Cardinals red through the stadium.
“This is always an exciting series for us, playing the Cardinals two-and-two, a natural rival if you will, at least that’s what MLB calls it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s always a fun series to play them.
“They’re always a tough team. They didn’t have one really bad stretch and really good stretch. They’ve been consistent all year long. They’ve got really good starting pitching. They’ve got tremendous veteran leadership with Yadier Molina over there. When they get hot, they’re a good team offensively. They’ve got a good bullpen. It’s a tough team.”
Vargas (13-5, 3.10 ERA) will try to cool off a hot St. Louis offense. The left-hander, however, has not pitched well since the start of July. He was 12-3 with a 2.22 ERA at the end of June. In five starts since, he is 1-3 with a 6.85 ERA.
He is facing St. Louis for the fifth time in his career, but the first time since 2014. Vargas is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA vs. the Cardinals, with his lone victory in 2010.
St. Louis will counter with right-hander Michael Wacha, who is 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA and four quality starts against the Royals. He has a 2.84 ERA in Kansas City. In an 8-4 victory over the Royals last season at Kauffman Stadium, he gave up four runs (three earned) over six innings.
Wacha (8-4, 3.66 ERA) is 5-1 with a 1.90 ERA in his past seven starts. He is 4-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 13 career interleague starts.
No Royal has more than 12 at-bats against Wacha. Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer are both 4-for-12 with a double and a strikeout, while Alcides Escobar is 3-for-11 with a double. No current Royal has a home run off Wacha.
Molina is 3-for-8 with a double and a walk vs. Vargas.
“It is fun,” Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk said of facing the Royals. “Obviously, the fans are into it. I was actually in an Uber today going to lunch and they were talking about it on the radio and they were getting all excited and the Uber driver was excited and hoped the Royals did well. Yeah, it’s something for them to get into, so it’s always fun to play in.”
The Royals, who have lost six of eight, are three games back of the first-place Cleveland Indians in the American League Central and in a virtual tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the second AL wild-card spot. The Cardinals trail the first-place Chicago Cubs by 3 1/2 games in the National League Central.