KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — There’s been so much talk about Mike Moustakas at the plate that the third baseman ignored the conversation Wednesday — even after doing something positive.
Moustakas hit a three-run double in the second inning to account for Kansas City’s only runs, and Jason Vargas and the Royals’ bullpen made the meager offense work in a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies that completed a two-game sweep.
Afterward, reporters peppered Moustakas with a series of questions about his decisive double, and each time he responded that Vargas pitched a great game.
Moustakas steadfastly refused to address his own hit.
“It’s a big game for us against a great team. Feels good to go out there and get a W with the way that Vargas pitched,” said Moustakas, who entered the game hitting .147 on the year.
Moustakas did answer questions about his slumping performance during a lengthy session with reporters the previous day. But he was downright defiant when he was approached on Wednesday.
He did talk about a nice play he made on defense, when he teamed with catcher Salvador Perez to pick off Charlie Culberson at third. The out came with the outcome still in the balance.
“Moose coming up clutch was huge,” said Vargas, who was perfectly willing to talk about the game’s biggest hit. “A big chance to put them in a hole early and we did.”
Meanwhile, Vargas (4-1) did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and did not allow a run until Drew Stubbs belted a two-run homer to left in the seventh.
Louis Coleman got the Royals out of the inning without any more damage, and Kelvin Herrera worked a perfect eighth. Greg Holland then pitched a shaky ninth for his 10th save.
After giving up a one-out single to Carlos Gonzalez and walking Nolan Arenado, Holland got Justin Morneau to hit a grounder to second. The ball was fielded cleanly and Kansas City got the runner there, but Morneau barely beat the throw to first base to keep the game going.
Holland promptly struck out Stubbs to leave the tying run on third.
“I think we’ve hit a little bump in the road here offensively,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “It’s safe to say that we’re struggling a little bit offensively. We’ve got to go back home and get it going again. No doubt about it, we’ve hit a little a little slide offensively.”
Jhoulys Chacin (1-1) pitched six gritty innings for Colorado, yielding seven hits and two walks.
The Rockies came into the two-game series swinging the best bats in the majors, but they were silenced by some stingy pitching. James Shields was their foil in a 5-1 Royals victory in Tuesday night’s opener, combining with the bullpen on a 12-strikeout performance.
Vargas was just as tough, striking out a season-high eight in 6 2/3 innings.
One of those strikeouts proved to be especially important: Troy Tulowitzki was left looking at a called third strike in the fourth inning. The leading hitter in the major leagues argued with plate umpire Dan Bellino over the location, which appeared down and in, and continued their one-sided conversation when he reached the dugout. Bellino responded by ejecting him.
“I felt like it was over once Tulo went back to the dugout,” Weiss said. “He heard him say something and that’s when he threw him out.”
D.J. LeMahieu took his spot in the lineup. And when the Rockies had runners on the corners in the sixth, it was LeMahieu rather than Tulowitzki at the plate. He struck out.
“Sometimes you just get caught up in the moment,” Tulowitzki said, “but to sit there and say do you regret doing that, no, because we weren’t playing well the last couple of games. Sometimes that lights a little spark in the team.”