KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Jason Vargas and the Kansas City Royals got another victory Tuesday night. It just won’t be enough to get them into the playoffs.
Vargas tied for the major league lead with his 18th win, but the Royals were eliminated from postseason contention despite beating the struggling Detroit Tigers 2-1.
The Minnesota Twins’ 8-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians officially quashed the Royals’ playoff hopes. Now attention will turn to what should be a busy offseason for Kansas City, as Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas are set to become free agents.
“We fell short,” Hosmer said. “We’re not going where we want to go, but it’s not due to lack of effort, so you can live with that.”
Vargas (18-10) went six innings to match Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for most wins in the majors. He gave up a run and five hits, inducing groundball double plays in the second, fourth and fifth innings.
In his first two starts against Detroit, Vargas was 0-2 while allowing 13 runs, including four home runs, in 4 2/3 innings. Vargas had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and only made three starts last year, but he’s now the first Royals pitcher to win 18 games since Kevin Appier in 1993.
Vargas, who was an American League All-Star selection, went 2-7 with an 8.13 ERA in 11 starts from July 5 to Sept. 5, but has won his past four starts.
“To see some light at the end of the tunnel with the way things have turned around at the end have been great,” Vargas said. “I would have liked to have pitched way better after the All-Star break and helped us out more than I did.”
The Tigers have lost eight straight and dropped to 4-21 in September.
Ian Kinsler’s two-out single in the third scored JaCoby Jones for Detroit’s run.
Hosmer’s two-out double in the fourth brought home Whit Merrifield, who began the inning with a double. That was Hosmer’s 189th hit, a career best. He had 188 in 2013.
Anibal Sanchez (3-6) took the loss, allowing two runs and seven hits while striking out six over six innings. Sanchez is winless in eight starts since an Aug. 1 victory over the New York Yankees.
“I don’t want to throw harder than I can. I don’t want to be nastier than I can,” Sanchez said. “I just want to be able to throw the right pitch in the right situation.”
Mike Minor worked the ninth for his third save in five chances.
The Royals turned five double plays.
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera (two herniated disks) is seeking a second opinion. It is undetermined whether he will play in the final five games of the season. … RHP Jeff Ferrell (concussion) threw a bullpen session. He has yet to be cleared. … OF Tyler Collins (intercostal strain) was unavailable to play. His last game was Friday. … OF Mikie Mahtook (left groin pull) is finished for the season.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann is 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA in two September starts.
Royals: RHP Jason Hammel is 2-3 with an 8.64 ERA in five starts this month and has failed to finish the fourth inning in two of his past three starts.
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