KANSAS CITY – Jason Vargas was a regular thorn in the A’s side when he pitched in the American League West.
They were reacquainted with the left-hander Thursday, and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. The A’s advanced just one runner as far as second base against Vargas in a 3-1 loss that denied them a sweep at Kauffman Stadium and snapped their eight-game winning streak against the Royals.
Vargas (2-0) was primarily responsible for that, limiting Oakland to four hits over 7 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked just one. Meanwhile, the Royals did their damage early off Jesse Hahn, scoring all the runs they would need inside of the first three innings.
Vargas, who spent four seasons with Seattle and one with the Angels, has thrown four complete games against Oakland and entered with a 3.22 ERA against them in 20 games (18 starts). The A’s carried just a .215 batting average against Vargas into the game.
Tensions ran high in the second inning when Ryon Healy exchanged words at home plate with Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Healy seemed to take exception to an inside pitch from Vargas, and he and Perez began jawing briefly before home plate umpire Mark Wegner stepped between them.
The A’s finished their first road trip of the season 3-3 and flew back to Oakland after the game to begin a 10-game homestand, all games against the AL West.
Starting pitching report
Five batters into the bottom of the first, four Royals had singled and two had scored off Hahn (0-1), suggesting it would be a short night for Oakland’s right-hander in his first major league start of the season. Hahn steadied himself, however, and wound up with a very respectable pitching line. He lasted six innings and gave up three runs on six hits, striking out seven and walking two. No doubt he’ll want to make things easier on himself in the early going, but he certainly earned another start after he was tapped to replace Raul Alcantara as the No. 5 man in the rotation.
Daniel Coulombe and Ryan Madson each threw a scoreless inning in relief of Hahn.
At the plate
Rajai Davis helped the A’s avoid a shutout when he lined a homer to left to lead off the ninth against Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, his first home run since returning to Oakland. Other than that, the A’s went quietly with the bats. They mustered just six hits total. Besides Davis’ homer, only two hitters reached as far as second base.
In the field
A familiar problem has already reared its ugly head, as the A’s are committing too many errors in the first two weeks of the season. After two Thursday night, they’ve totaled an American League-high 11. Their miscues Thursday were very avoidable. Mark Canha, drawing the start in right field, simply dropped Eric Hosmer’s liner. That came after he made an adventure of Lorenzo Cain’s liner an inning before. Hahn committed the other error, when he covered first on a grounder and couldn’t handle an easy flip from Ryon Healy. A’s pitchers have committed five errors already. They committed just nine all of last season.
The announced turnout was 22,160.
Josh Reddick makes his return to Oakland when the Astros begin a three-game series at the Coliseum on Friday night. Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.08) goes in the opener against lefty Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 0.64), with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. Saturday: Sean Manaea (0-1, 7.15) vs. Lance McCullers (1-0, 2.77), 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Jharel Cotton (1-1, 3.97) vs. Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.09), 1:05 p.m.