By Dave Skretta
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) —Nicholas Castellanos and Mikie Mahtook went deep, Jordan Zimmermann smothered the Royals with strikes and the Detroit Tigers proceeded to trounce Kansas City 10-2 to open a four-game series Monday night.
Ian Kinsler added three extra-base hits for the Tigers, who knocked American League wins leader Jason Vargas (12-4) from the game after 2 2/3 innings in his first start since the All-Star break.
Zimmermann (6-7) allowed one run and seven hits without a walk in 6 2/3 innings, throwing 79 of 97 pitches for strikes. His dominance was partly a result of first-pitch strikes to 24 of the 28 batters he faced, which helped the right-hander win for the first time since June 3.
Seemingly the only pitch Zimmermann threw that wasn’t a strike hit Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar on the left wrist in the seventh inning. Escobar was forced to leave the game.
Eric Hosmer homered in the eighth for Kansas City. Whit Merrifield also drove in a run.
Things went awry for Vargas from the first pitch, which Kinsler swatted to the fence for a double. Vargas proceeded to match a season high with four walks, Kinsler added a pair of triples off him, and the homers by Castellanos and Mahtook combined to go nearly 900 feet.
The dismal performance came after Vargas was battered for six runs — including three homers — on eight hits and a walk in five innings at Seattle in his final start before the All-Star break.
Vargas did toss a shutout inning during last week’s Midsummer Classic.
It was Zimmermann who looked like an All-Star on Monday night, though — not someone who had allowed at least four runs each of his last three starts, and was 0-4 with a 6.99 ERA on the road.
Zimmermann breezed through a perfect first, bounced back from back-to-back singles to escape trouble in the second, then began pounding the strike zone. By the time he hit the 50-pitch mark, Zimmermann threw 44 of them for strikes, and he wound up with only four two-ball counts in the game.
Rumors have suggested that Detroit could trade slugger J.D. Martinez and closer Justin Wilson before the July 31 deadline, though both said they weren’t focused on where they might end up. “Once you’re traded once, it’s not a big deal,” said Wilson, who has been traded from the Pirates and Yankees during his six-year career. “Like I’ve said from the get-go, this is a business, and if I get traded, I get traded.”
The Royals reinstated RHP Neftali Feliz from the paternity list and recalled OF Billy Burns from Triple-A Omaha. OF Jorge Soler and RHP Miguel Almonte were optioned to the Storm Chasers.
Tigers LHP Daniel Norris (left groin strain) is making a rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night. … Martinez was removed in the seventh as a precautionary measure with lower back tightness.
Royals INF Cheslor Cuthbert (left wrist sprain) went to Omaha to begin a rehab assignment. Cuthbert was hitting .196 in 33 games when he went on the DL retroactive to June 26.
The Tigers are recalling LHP Matt Boyd from Toledo to start Tuesday night, while the Royals will send LHP Travis Wood for his second start of the season. Boyd’s last start with Detroit came May 31 in Kansas City, when he allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings.
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