His surgically repaired left elbow no longer a concern, Jason Vargas is pitching better than he has at any time in his career.
That and a solid rapport with veteran catcher Salvador Perez have Vargas on quite a roll.
Vargas pitched seven strong innings, Alcides Escobar hit a two-run double in a six-run sixth and the Kansas City Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 8-1 on Tuesday night.
Just not this good.
Vargas’ nine wins are tied for most in the majors with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel of the Astros. They are five shy of Vargas’ career high set in 2012 when he was still pitching for Seattle.
Vargas also has a 2.18 ERA that is second-lowest among qualifiers behind Keuchel’s mark of 1.67.
Vargas (9-3) allowed one run and outpitched Ty Blach in a matchup of left-handers. Vargas gave up five hits with six strikeouts and one walk for his fourth straight win overall and second against the Giants this season.
Jorge Bonifacio drove in three runs and snapped an 0-for-13 drought. Alex Gordon added two hits and two runs, and Whit Merrifield had a bases-loaded triple to help Kansas City win in its first appearance at AT&T Park since the 2014 World Series.
Buster Posey had two hits and scored San Francisco’s run. The Giants have lost 10 of 14.
Escobar, whose leadoff single in the third sparked a two-run rally, broke the game open with a bases-loaded double off Blach (4-4) in the sixth. After Gordon was intentionally walked and Vargas struck out, Merrifield lofted a fly ball that landed beyond sliding right fielder Hunter Pence near the foul line to put the Royals up 7-1. Bonifacio followed with an RBI single.
That was more than enough for Vargas, who pitched seven scoreless innings to beat the Giants in Kansas City on April 19.