Jason Vargas, Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Vargas Dominates, Athletics Fall 3-0

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After taking a pounding from the Athletics in Tuesday night’s 11-3 loss, the Royals got back to their winning ways on Wednesday behind an outstanding performance from Jason Vargas. Vargas (W, 9-5, 3.27) went the distance against the A’s, allowing just three hits. In their last 21 games, the Royals are 17-4.

In his outing against the Athletics just eleven days prior, Jason Vargas was doomed by one big inning, in which he allowed 8 runs on 6 hits.

There was no big inning on Wednesday. Heck, there wasn’t even a hit from the A’s past the 2nd inning. Vargas was changing speeds effectively from the beginning, alternating between his fastball and changeup, which kept the Athletics’ offense off-balance all game.

According to FanGraphs, the difference in speed between Jason Vargas’ fastball (87.1 mph) and his changeup (80.6) this season isn’t staggering, but when used correctly can be devastating.By comparison, Scott Kazmir’s fastball clocks in at 91.2 mph this season, while his changeup is a mere 80.1.

FanGraphs also shows that Vargas’ ERA- (Earned Run Average adjusted for park and league, where 100 is average, and the lower the number the better) is at a 94, while last season with the Angels, he earned a 106. This could be due to the fact that Vargas has eliminated the cutter from his repertoire, and focused more on keeping hitter’s timing off with the fastball and change.

Scott Kazmir (L, 13-5, 2.78) on the other hand, pitched a good game in his own right. Kaz went a strong 7 innings, allowing 7 hits and 3 earned. He allowed 2 early, when Omar Infante (2 for 3, 2 RBI, walk, run scored) homered to left in the 3rd. In the 5th, Salvador Perez added a sac fly for his 50th RBI on the season. The 3 runs were more than enough for Jason Vargas.

The A’s look to split the series in Kansas City on Thursday morning (MLB Network, joined in progress) at 11am when Jeff Samardzija (3-1, 3.08) takes on James Shields (11-6, 3.25). The A’s are 6-1 in games started by Jeff Samardzija, the last 2 victories coming with help from the Rally Possum.

TIDBITS: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won their game against the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3. The win, coupled with the A’s loss, trims the A’s division lead to 2.5 games with 42 games left to play, and 10 head-to-head matchups.

The A’s are still the only team in baseball with 70+ wins. The Los Angeles Dodgers (69) and Baltimore Orioles (69) have a chance to join Oakland tomorrow.

Entering play, Kazmir had compiled a 1.49 record with a 5-1 ERA in 8 day starts. At night, Kazmir is 8-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 15 starts.

Kazmir’s next win will be his 14th on the season, and a new career high.

Josh Donaldson‘s double in the 1st extended his hit streak to 10 games.

With the 0-fer on Wednesday, Derek Norris is now 0 for his last 13.

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