ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jason Vargas never had to worry about clearing his schedule for the All-Star Game. That might be about to change.
Vargas earned his 10th win, most in the majors, and Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer as the Kansas City Royals beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-3 on Sunday.
As the first pitcher to reach double digits in wins, Vargas finds himself ahead of perennial All-Stars such as Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale. Still, the Royals’ unassuming left-hander with the 2.27 ERA isn’t locking in travel arrangements to Miami next month just yet.
“I’ve never been invited to the summer classic, so we’ll just see,” said Vargas, who allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. “The coaches have a lot to do with what’s going on with the pitching staff. We’ll just keep going until the All-Star break and see where things shake out.”
Although he ended up with another comfortable win, Vargas (10-3) found himself in trouble early and late. The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the first inning before the streaking Royals offense stepped in.
Mike Moustakas hit a three-run double in the third, giving him 19 RBIs this month and providing the Royals with a lead they did not relinquish.
Perez then launched a drive to center field for his 14th homer of the season, leaving Cameron Maybin to climb the wall for show as part of a four-run outburst in the fourth.
“He went out and gave up some runs there early, and we picked him up right away,” Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said about Vargas. “He’s been picking us up all season with the outings he has been putting in. That’s what good teams do – they pick up their guy when he slips up a little bit.”
Vargas was able to avoid another slip-up before departing. Facing a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the sixth, he was able to limit the damage to one run, bookending two popups around Ben Revere’s sacrifice fly.
Angels starter J.C. Ramirez did not have the same luck. Ramirez (6-5) was pulled after failing to get an out in the fourth, needing 89 pitches to make it that far. He started off well enough by striking out five consecutive batters, but then lost the strike zone. Ramirez walked four and hit a batter with a pitch as he gave up five earned runs.
“Even though he was striking those guys out, he needed a lot of pitches and worked really hard,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I don’t think he ran out of gas. Those guys did a pretty good job in the batter’s box against him.”
The Royals went 7-2 on their California road trip and scored at least seven runs in six of those victories, bolstered by 18 homers.
With his team now well on pace to set a franchise record for home runs in a season, Hosmer is most impressed with when they are coming, citing Perez’s two-out shot that broke the game open.
“They have been some big homers, too, especially on this road trip,” Hosmer said. “As long as they keep coming in big spots like that, we’ll take every single one.”
Hosmer picked up his 500th career RBI earlier in the fourth.
OH, SO CLOSE
When Kole Calhoun doubled off the very top of the wall in right field to drive in a run for the Angels in the first, even he wasn’t sure what to make of the play. Scioscia came onto the field thinking it was definitely worth another look. The umpires agreed, initiating a video review.
It turned out the call on the field was absolutely right.
“I think that’s about as close as you can get to a home run without getting one,” Scioscia said.
Calhoun went 3 for 5, notching his 16th RBI over the last 18 games.
Royals: Perez and DH Brandon Moss were back in the lineup after getting a rest during a 9-0 loss Saturday. … Whit Merrifield got the afternoon off and was replaced at second base by Ramon Torres.
Angels: CF Mike Trout (thumb) will start swinging a bat next week, but Scioscia isn’t ready to deviate from the previously announced timetable of a six-to-eight-week recovery. “He’s about where you would expect a guy with his injury to be looking at,” Scioscia said.
Royals: RHP Jason Hammel (3-6, 5.05 ERA) faces Boston’s Hector Velazquez (1-1, 6.48) on Monday, marking his first appearance against the Red Sox since 2013. Hammel has allowed just one run in each of his last two starts.
Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (1-0, 2.79) takes injured Matt Shoemaker’s spot in the rotation Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium for the start of an eight-game road trip. Bridwell has never started against the Yankees, but did toss 3 2/3 innings as a reliever against them on Wednesday, giving up one run and seven hits. Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.71) pitches for New York.
More AP baseball: