Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jason Vargas Twirls 3-Hitter in Royals Win; Justin Masterson Keeps Cardinals on Track in NL Central

Players of the Day for Wednesday, August 13, 2014

American League

Jason Vargas
After Oakland broke their eight-game winning streak with an 11-3 pounding, the Kansas City Royals bounced right back and held onto first place in the Central division with a 3-0 win over the A's.

Jason Vargas stifled the hard-hitting A's with a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and no walks over the nine frames. He struck out four and threw 65 of 97 pitches for strikes, improving to 9-5 with a 3.27 ERA on the year. The effort was nothing new for the 31-year-old hurler. He's thrown 11 complete games and six shutouts during the course of his nine-year major league career.

Vargas was in trouble in the first inning, but struck out Derek Norris to end a first-and-third, two out threat. After Jed Lowrie singled to open the second and was erased by a double play, Vargas didn't allow another hit, getting the next 22 batters in order.

The win kept the Royals a half game to the good over Detroit in the division. The Tigers beat Pittsburgh, 8-4.

Games four of the Royals-A's series is slated for an 2:10 pm EDT afternoon start in Kansas City. The Royals lead two games to one.

NOTABLE: Adam Jones' three-run, eighth inning homer, which broke a 2-2 tie and led to a 5-3 Baltimore win over the Yankees, may have been the blast which sealed the deal for the Orioles in the AL East. With a 7 1/2 game lead over Toronto and eight over the Yankees, even if the O's finish up the regular season 20-23, Toronto would have to go 27-13 or the Yankees, 29-14, to beat them. Odds are, since the Yanks and Blue Jays are just barely better than .500 teams, one could contend that the race is over in the division and that Baltimore can coast through the rest of August and September, into the post-season. It may be premature to make that call, but it's a safe bet that the O's are - despite various injuries - the class of the division, and that the two teams chasing them are probably not playoff material.

Presently, the Blue Jays trail Detroit for the second wild card spot by three games; the Yankees are 3 1/2 back.

National League

Justin Masterson
Seeking a sweep of their three-game series with the Cardinals, a win would have gotten the Miami Marlins to 60-60 on the season and made them a viable threat in the NL East.

It wasn't to be, however, as St. Louis hurler, Justin Masterson, silenced Miami's bats for seven innings, allowing three hits and no walks, fanning three, picking up his second win for the Cardinals in three starts since being acquired from the Tigers in late July. St. Louis took the final game of the series, 5-2.

Masterson was lifted for a pinch-hitter after the seventh inning with the Cards on top, 4-0. Daniel Descalso, took a bases-loaded walk in place of Masterson to make the score 5-0 in the top of their eighth.

Miami got its two runs in the ninth, on Jeff Baker's pinch-hit home run off reliever Kevin Siegrist.

The loss left Miami at 59-61, seven games behind the Nationals in the East, while the Cardinals drew to within two games of the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-2 losers to the Cubs on Wednesday. St. Louis trails Pittsburgh by 1/2 game in the red-hot NL Central race and are currently in line for the second wild card spot, though just 1/2 game better than the Giants.

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