The Kansas City Royals have an off-day tomorrow to shake off their season-opening loss incurred today. After that, the always-steady Jason Vargas is scheduled to face off against returning Cy Young Award Winner Max Scherzer and the returning division champ Detroit Tigers. I’ve previously explained that we almost always know what we’ll get out of Vargas, so Wednesday’s game will come down to clutch hitting for Kansas City.
KC hit 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Detroit, and they can’t come anywhere close to that ineptitude if they hope to win this already-pivotal series. That failure in clutch situations allowed the Tigers to get back into the game and eventually win it in walk-off fashion.
Alex Gordon at the No. 5 spot and Mike Moustakas at No. 7 both went without hits in today’s loss. Scherzer was tough for anyone to hit last season, but it was especially hard for right-handed bats; Scherzer’s ERA and batting average rose from 2.51 and .165 for right-handed batters to 3.2 and .222 for lefties. If Detroit’s starter holds down left-handed batters in the heart of the Royals’ lineup, KC won’t have a chance.
Vargas gave up four runs through six innings in his last start against Detroit on April 24 of last season. Prior to that, he only allowed five runs through 20 innings over three consecutive starts. It won’t be a perfect game, but Kansas City’s newly-acquired starter should keep them in the game this Wednesday. Only the Royals offense will be to blame if they can’t produce enough to tie this series with an April 2 win.