Jarrod Dyson lined a two-run single to right with one out in the eighth inning and later scored as the Royals held on for a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, denying their ace Gerrit Cole a shot for a major league best 14th win. The bullpen also stepped up after an early exit from starter Jason Vargas.
The winning rally got going when Omar Infante hit a ground ball that went right through the legs of Pirates second baseman Neil Walker for an error. Alex Rios singled and took second on the throw trying to get Infante at third, setting up Dyson’s big hit. Prior to that, the Royals were stymied by Cole, as they were held to just three hits in the first seven innings.
The win increases the lead in the Central over Minnesota to 6.5 games and 10.5 over Detroit, but now there are serious concerns for this starting rotation.
Left-hander Jason Vargas, just activated from the disabled list earlier in the day on Tuesday, left in the second inning with what was described by the Royals as left medial elbow pain. Vargas will have an MRI Wednesday. Vargas has been on the DL twice for a left flexor strain.
To make room for Vargas, the club shipped struggling starter Yordano Ventura to Triple-A Omaha. This was not a move that was ever expected when they signed their Opening Day starter to a $23 million contract. Ventura was in line to replace to James Shields as the “go to” guy after Ventura showed his mettle by winning Game 6 of the 2014 World Series with seven shutout innings.
Ventura is set to start Saturday in Omaha. Does that change if Vargas heads back to the DL?
Dayton Moore will most certainly be in the buyer’s market before the July 31st trade deadline and the focus clearly becomes starting pitching.