Vargas and four relievers combine for two-hit shutout as Royals top Blue Jays
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas (51) works against the Toronto Blue Jays during first inning AL baseball action in Toronto on Thursday, September 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:11PM EDT
TORONTO -- Starter Jason Vargas and four relievers combined on a two-hit shutout as the Kansas City Royals topped the Toronto Blue Jays 1-0 on Thursday night.
Vargas issued three walks but kept the Toronto bats quiet over his 6 1/3 innings on a warm evening at Rogers Centre. Kendrys Morales reached on a soft single in the second inning and Darwin Barney was generously given a hit in the fifth when Melky Cabrera couldn't squeeze a flare in shallow right field.
Cabrera drove in Alex Gordon with a two-out single in the third inning off Toronto starter J.A. Happ for the game's lone run. Royals relievers Peter Moylan, Ryan Buchter and Joakim Soria preceded Mike Minor, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.
Kansas City (75-77) is hanging on to slim playoff hopes in the American League. The Royals entered play 3 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild-card spot.
Dropping the rubber game of the three-game set guaranteed Toronto (71-82) would finish the season with a losing record.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar provided a defensive highlight in the second inning. He snared a grounder from Kevin Pillar and flipped it straight from the glove to Whit Merrifield to start a double play.
Armed with a one-run lead, the Royals threatened again in the fourth as Eric Hosmer reached on a Josh Donaldson throwing error. Salvador Perez singled but was erased when Mike Moustakas hit into a double play that moved Hosmer to third. Happ (9-11) fanned Jorge Bonifacio to escape.
Vargas cruised through the first four innings and survived some suspect defence in the fifth.
After Barney reached on the Cabrera flub, Moustakas one-hopped a throw to second on a potential double-play ball and the Royals settled for a force. Vargas got Richard Urena to hit into another force and caught Teoscar Hernandez looking for the third out.
The Royals put runners on the corners with one out in the sixth but Happ got Perez to hit into a double play to keep it a one-run game.
Happ's 108-pitch outing ended in the seventh after issuing a two-out walk to Gordon. He allowed one earned run, seven hits and two walks while striking out six.
Vargas (17-10), who struck out seven, became the first Royal to win 17 games in a season since Paul Byrd in 2002. Announced attendance was 35,861 and the game took two hours 39 minutes to play.
Notes: The Blue Jays will close out their home schedule with a three-game series against the Yankees. Marco Estrada (9-8, 4.84 earned-run average) will start for Toronto on Friday night while New York counters with fellow right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-11, 4.73). ... The Blue Jays will finish the season on the road with stops in Boston and New York next week.