Vargas battles to keep Indians' bats in check

Vargas battles to keep Indians' bats in check

CLEVELAND -- Royals left-hander Jason Vargas clearly didn't have his best stuff on Saturday. But he grinded anyway, and gave manager Ned Yost 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 5-2 win over the Indians.

"That's the perfect word for it -- he had to grind through it," Yost said. "He was up today a little bit. The competitiveness, the competitive nature in him, he just had to grind through it.

"He would bend a little bit, but never break. He held the fort. He made pitches when he needed to. He did a great job maneuvering through the game without his best stuff."

Vargas gave up nine hits and was in trouble frequently.

"They did a pretty good job of getting back into some counts when I was ahead of them," Vargas said. "And that forced us to do some things we maybe wouldn't have done if they were more aggressive."

Vargas' biggest scare came in the fourth when Jason Kipnis ripped a shot toward the foul pole in right that came perilously close to being a grand slam that would have made the score 6-1 at the time.

Kipnis' close call

But the ball hooked foul. And after a crew-chief review, the call was confirmed.

"I had a really good feeling it was foul," Vargas said. "When It was up in the air, I had a feeling it might stay fair, especially with the wind moving the way it was. As it kept moving, I saw it had a good chance to get foul. I had pretty good feeling when they went to review it that it wasn't going to be a fair ball, and we'd have another chance to get out of that inning."

Vargas then got Kipnis to pop out, ending the inning.

"We were able to throw him a breaking ball," Vargas said, "which he wasn't able to stay on as well."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.