KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Jason Vargas began tinkering sometime between the second and third inning, after his pitch count had risen perilously high yet he’d managed to wiggle out of three straight jams.
Whatever he did seemed to work.
Vargas (2-0), who signed a $32 million, four-year deal in the offseason, allowed seven hits while striking out four in another dazzling start. The crafty left-hander lowered his ERA to 1.24 while going at least seven innings in each of his four outings this season.
“I don’t know, man. I’ve had games where I pitched well and games where I haven’t. I don’t really think about it,” Vargas said. “I just take the ball every fifth day.”
Vargas put runners on base each of the first five innings, though he was never in serious trouble. Only twice did a runner reach second base and each time a lazy fly ball ended the inning.
“He’s got a good plan and he sticks to it. Every time we got someone on he found a way to get out of it,” said the Twins‘ Chris Colabello. “He’s a pitcher, not just a thrower.”
Even when the Twins hit a ball hard, Alex Gordon was there to make a play.
The Royals‘ Gold Glove left-fielder threw a strike from the warning track to second base in the fourth inning, cutting down Josmil Pinto as he tried to stretch a single. Two innings later, Gordon made a running catch into the padding in foul territory on Joe Mauer’s fly ball.
“That one was easy,” Gordon said with a smile.
Alcides Escobar had three hits and Omar Infante also drove in two runs for the Royals, who followed up a sweep at the hands of Minnesota last weekend by sweeping Houston and then taking the first of their three-game set against the Twins this weekend.
“It’s not tough. You just have to go out and keep making pitches,” Nolasco said. “Obviously there was the homer, but I hung with them. They put guys on base and capitalized on it.”
Escobar sent a charge through the Royals‘ anemic offense with a double in the third inning, and consecutive singles by Nori Aoki, Infante and Eric Hosmer staked them to a 2-0 lead.
Infante’s single drove in Escobar to make it 3-0 in the fifth.