KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the first-place Royals hosting the first-place Cardinals this weekend, the ghosts from 1985’s I-70 World Series have resurfaced, with some eyes toward this October and a possible rematch in the Fall Classic.
"There’s a lot of history here between the two clubs, a lot of it came from 1985," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It’s fun to be able to at least be competitive with them. We had some good series with them last year and, at the end of the year, I think we finally proved that we were a championship-caliber team.
"Tonight, my feeling is there are two championship-caliber teams going at each other for three games. It’s going to be exciting."
Kansas City took three of four from St. Louis last season, the first time since 2009 the Royals took the season series. This weekend’s set marks the first time since 2003 the pair of teams have each occupied first place in their respective divisions.
The clubs have the two best records in baseball, the two highest run differentials in baseball and two of the best pitching staffs in baseball. St. Louis’ team ERA of 2.79 ranks first while Kansas City’s 3.24 is third.
"We’ve always had good series with the Cardinals," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "It’ll be fun."
Vargas faces hitters
Jason Vargas completed a three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game Friday afternoon, one of the last hurdles before he returns to the Royals’ rotation.
Yost said the club would wait until tomorrow to see how Vargas’ arm responds before deciding when he would be back. Vargas has missed the last 12 games with a left flexor strain. He faced Jarrod Dyson, Alex Rios and Christian Colon during the sim game.
"I thought he threw the ball good," Yost said.
Finnegan working in relief
Left-handed prospect Brandon Finnegan has been working in relief since he was sent down to the minors two weeks ago — and will be for the foreseeable future.
Moore said Finnegan — Kansas City’s No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America — would continue in the bullpen because that would be his role should he be called back up to the majors. Finnegan was promoted to Triple A Omaha on Thursday.
The organization hoped to groom its 2014 first-round pick into a starting pitcher this season, but those plans appear on hold for now.
"We think he’s going to help us this year as a reliever and not a starter," Moore said.