Not everybody agrees with Ned Yost's managerial decisions, but everyone agrees that the Royals are one of the best defensive teams in the majors -- maybe the best. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain made two outstanding catches early in Game 1 and then right fielder Norichika Aoki made two adventurous catches in the sixth and seventh innings.
Twitter was going crazy as Jason Vargas stayed in the game in the sixth inning to face Chris Iannetta (who had already homered) and then the top of the Angels' lineup -- remember, over his final four starts, Vargas allowed 18 runs in 18 innings and never got past the sixth. Then there's the whole thing that pitchers, on average, do worse the third time through the order. Then there's the thing that the Angels' two and three hitters are right-handed power hitters named Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and Vargas gives up home runs to right-handed hitters.
Vargas did do a nice job of getting Trout to fly out with Kole Calhoun on first and one out. After a curveball for a ball, he came inside with three straight fastballs -- Vargas' usual mode against righties is to pound the outside corner. So nice job there. Still, it was living on the edge when he walked Pujols and was allowed to face Howie Kendrick. Then this happened:
Vargas was assisted tonight with catches like this: pic.twitter.com/nuqDUOYrJL
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) October 3, 2014
@jazayerli Yes, on a ball that *Cain* missed. Was going to ask you for six random numbers, but just missed the lotto draw. nm.
— Marc W. (@USSM_Marc) October 3, 2014
The next inning, with a runner on third and two outs, C.J. Cron lifted a fly ball to right field that Aoki took a bit of a circular route to get to before finally making a falling grab on the warning track. Then he tipped his cap with a big smile on his face. Aoki is actually considered the weak link of the Kansas City defense, as Jarrod Dyson usually comes in for defense late in the game if the Royals lead (with Cain shifting to right).
TBS Trax has Aoki's routes to balls tonight pic.twitter.com/7XlK22icU2
— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) October 3, 2014
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) October 3, 2014