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Sports

Five (!) double plays save day for Royals

June 13, 2011

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— Vin Mazzaro didn’t strike out a single batter and walked five, three of them leading off an inning — not exactly a recipe for success.

What got him going through seven scoreless innings was the fact that his defense turned five double plays in Kansas City’s 9-0 rout of the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday in the rubber game of the three-game series.

“I felt great out there, commanding my fastball on both sides of the plate and running it in on the hands,” Mazzaro said. “I gave them some free passes, but I made some good pitches when I needed to and got the groundballs. I just wanted to keep attacking the zone, let the guys behind me do the job.”

Mazzaro (1-1) scattered five hits in his third start with Kansas City. He pitched to contact throughout the game, inducing double-play grounders by Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo and Bobby Abreu. Hank Conger lined into the other one. All five DPs were started by shortstop Alcides Escobar.

“Vin pitched a great game today,” said Royals rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer, who finished with 11 putouts. “Whenever Royals guys were on base, he was getting that slider and sinker down, getting them to roll over on it. That’s why we turned so many double plays. He was pitching to contact and did a great job for us.”

The Royals’ 24-year-old right-hander also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by retiring Peter Bourjos on a fielder’s choice with his 102nd pitch.

“This is the Mazzaro we saw last year that we wanted to trade for — a guy that can change speeds, get you off balance and command the baseball,” manager Ned Yost said. “That’s a good offense over there, and they can put runs on the board in a hurry. They’re just stale right now and they’re struggling to score runs.”

Blake Wood worked the final two innings, helping send the Angels to their ninth shutout loss — matching their total from all of last season.

“It’s hard to believe, especially because of the lineup we have,” Abreu said. “The way we’re swinging, all of the pitchers look a little tougher. I don’t want to offend anyone, but we haven’t hit the way we’re supposed to hit.”

Mazzaro came in with a whopping 17.47 ERA after giving up 22 earned runs, 25 hits and eight walks in just 111⁄3 innings this season spanning three appearances.

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