Twins ace Santana struggles in rare matchup between top pitchers

July 1, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jason Vargas is making his case to be the American League starting pitcher for the All-Star Game.

Vargas picked up his AL-leading 12th victory, Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer and the Kansas City Royals defeated the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Friday night.

Vargas (12-3) tied Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers for the major league lead in wins and lowered his ERA to 2.22, which tops the American League. He allowed two hits and one run over seven innings, while walking a season-high four.

"It's not my decision to make," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Vargas starting the July 11 All-Star Game. "But my opinion is his numbers are as good as anybody's in baseball. He's definitely got to be in some strong consideration for it."

Ervin Santana (10-5) took the loss, yielding seven runs, five earned, and eight hits.

It was the second time since 1990 that two pitchers with at least 10 wins and an ERA of less than 3.00 matched up. The previous was June 16, 2002, with Boston's Derek Lowe (10 wins, 1.89 ERA) and Atlanta's Tom Glavine (11 wins, 1.53 ERA) squared off in an interleague game.

"I don't know if there was one thing working in particular," Vargas said. "I got behind some hitters and put some guys on base with free passes. I was just really able to manage some of the innings when we got some guys on base."

Santana's throwing error in the fourth opened the floodgates for a five-run inning. After Jorge Bonifacio opened the inning with a single, Lorenzo Cain hit a sharp grounder to Santana for a probable double play. Santana's throw sailed wide right of second baseman Brian Dozier and into center field.

"I was frustrated because we practiced that play for a long time in spring training," Santana said. "I guess I was trying to be too quick because Lorenzo Cain runs well. And then, after that play, I lost my control. I forget about the game and start throwing instead of pitching."

Hosmer, the next batter, deposited Santana's first pitch into the left-field seats, tucking it just inside the foul pole, for his 10th home run. There was a crew chief review to assure that it was a homer.

"I didn't know," Hosmer said if it was fair. "I was about halfway up the line. It was just a waiting game from that point on."

The Royals sent 10 men to the plate in the inning with Whit Merrifield and Alcides Escobar adding run-scoring singles.

Mike Moustakas blasted his 21st home run to lead off the Kansas City sixth. Escobar tripled and scored on Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly for the other Royals' run in the inning. Gordon had another sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Miguel Sano's two-out single in the third scored Max Kepler, who had walked, for the only run Vargas would allow.

"Vargas was hitting his spots, good sequences," Kepler said. "He knows how to pitch. In today's game, all the pitchers throw hard, a majority anyway. But, he had a plan with every hitter and executed."


RHP Luke Farrell, the son of Boston manager John Farrell, will start the first game of Saturday's doubleheader for the Royals. He went 7-3 record with a 3.83 ERA for Triple-A Omaha. "A couple of hours before we told him, I texted John and said, `Look, I'm just giving you a heads up. Luke is going to make his major league debut on Saturday,'" Yost said. "He was thrilled."


Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (oblique strain) made his second minor league rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Omaha. He gave up one run and four hits, walked none and struck out five at Colorado Springs. Yost implied Duffy would likely start Tuesday at Seattle.


Royals minor league C Mark Sanchez is suspended 80 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone. Sanchez hit .206 in 33 games with Low-A Lexington.


The Royals recalled LHP Eric Skoglund, who was 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in three starts earlier this season. They optioned RHP Jake Junis, who was 2-2 with a 5.66 ERA in eight games, to Triple-A Omaha.


Twins: RHP Jose Berrios will start the opener of a day-night doubleheader. RHP Felix Jorge will make his big league debut in the second game. He went 8-1 with a 3.26 ERA with Double-A Chattanooga.

Royals: RHP Jason Hammel, who went 3-0 with a 2.51 ERA in June, will start the nightcap.

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