Ricky Nolasco was virtually unhittable a week ago in Minnesota, shutting down the scuffling Royals over eight innings in an easy victory that came amid a three-game sweep. The right-hander was battered around for the better part of six innings, out-pitched by the Royals’ Jason Vargas in a 5-0 loss that opened the Twins’ three-game series in Kansas City. They put guys on base and capitalized on it.” The homer came from Mike Moustakas, a two-run shot in the sixth inning that broke the game open. Omar Infante also drove in two runs for the Royals, who have won four straight.

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Vargas making a case to be Kansas City’s ace KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Left-hander Jason Vargas entered the season with little fanfare for the Kansas City Royals. But Vargas (2-0) is not playing second fiddle to anybody as he improved to 2-0 with a seven-inning gem Friday night. The Royals improved to 8-0 when scoring at least four runs with a 5-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

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Houston Astros manager Bo Porter has had a frustrating week, which is to be expected when tasked with guiding a young and inexperienced ball club in the midst of a complete rebuild. We saw a bit of that frustration boil over following Thursday night’s loss to the Kansas City Royals when Porter could barely discuss a costly Matt Dominguez mental error . On Friday, he may have really it get the best of him on the field during Houston’s 11-3 loss to the Oakland A’s on Friday night.
The seeds of the incident were really planted in the first inning. With Houston already trailing 7-0, Porter and company took exception to Oakland’s Jed Lowrie laying down a bunt against their defensive shift during his second plate appearance of the inning.
Nothing was said then, but when Lowrie came to bat in the third inning, he was brushed off the plate twice by reliever Paul Clemens. Lowrie ultimately flied out to end the inning. At that point, it appeared he had some words for the Astros as they walked off the field. Jose Altuve, Lowrie’s former teammate and double play partner with the Astros, approached him to calm him down. Though it was clear Lowrie didn’t appreciate what happened at the plate, things did seem to calm down a little.
That was until Porter ran on the field and started jawing, concluding by motioning and reportedly ordering Lowrie to “go back to shortstop.”
The situation did not escalate beyond what’s seen in the video. Lowrie returned to his position and the game continued without any further shenanigans or any ejections. However, two questions have to be asked and answered.
1. Was Bo Porter out of line in confronting Lowrie on the field?
This one is easy. The situation was calming down until Porter arrived and said his piece to Lowrie. If he’s getting his players off the field that’s one thing. That he made it a point to jaw with Lowrie is another that could have ignited a larger confrontation.
It will be interesting to see if the league has anything to say about this because they obviously prefer managers keeping it professional and not involving themselves directly with opposing players.
2. Did Jed Lowrie really break an unwritten rule?
Maybe, but he sure didn’t think so .
“It’s the first inning and they’re playing the shift,” Lowrie said about his bunt attempt. “Apparently they didn’t like that, but I’ve seen crazier things happen than a team come back from seven runs. We’re trying to win the game, and I felt they were giving me that by playing the shift.”
A couple things worth pointing out here.
First, Lowrie is right, 7-0 in the first inning is quite a bit different than 7-0 in the final three innings. Houston still had eight innings to forge a comeback, which even with their lineup isn’t insurmountable.
Second, if the Astros are still utilizing a shift and applying strategy to the game, why can’t Lowrie make an honest attempt to beat the shift? Even if this game was over, which for all intents and purposes it was, if Houston is going to tip its hand defensively, in return Lowrie can plant a seed that he may lay down a bunt in a future game to offset it. It’s not always about today. Sometimes it’s about tomorrow when it comes to feeling out an opponent and seeing how they react, and by laying down the bunt he may make Houston rethink something.
From that perspective, it may have actually been a smart play by Lowrie. Then again, perhaps the funniest part of the entire scenario is the fact it didn’t work. Lowrie bunted right to the pitcher and was thrown out, so he gained nothing and the Astros lost nothing on that play.
It was much ado about nothing, really. But any time an unwritten rule comes into question you’re going to get drama. 
 
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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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After trying throughout the winter and spring training to add a left-handed hitting first baseman, the Pittsburgh Pirates got their man on Friday as they acquired Ike Davis from the New York Mets. The Pirates traded minor-league reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named for Davis. The Pirates are hoping Davis can regain his form of two years ago when he hit 32 home runs and had 90 RBIs. The Mets assigned Thornton to their Triple-A Las Vegas farm club.

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Most mistakes committed on a baseball field, even mental ones, can be forgiven. Houston Astros manager Bo Porter, even now, probably is testing that statement after what slugger Matt Dominguez pulled Thursday night. Porter’s slow burn in the video above is epic. He takes 17 seconds to answer a question about Dominguez’s baserunning blunder against the Kansas City Royals, as CSN Houston notes .
Porter doesn’t fly off the handle but he’s definitely mad as heck and disappointed in Dominguez’s decision-making skills.
After hitting a ball into the gap at Minute Maid Park that should have been a single to put runners at the corners, Dominguez got greedy, making a wide turn at first and trying — sort of — for a double. He was out by a lot, as you can see. It appeared he was out for most of the baseline between first and second. Dominguez was so out, he didn’t even bother sliding, or even thinking about sliding. The situation — nobody out, trailing by five runs — called for a conservative play. Dominguez certainly did not do the right thing. “Do you believe you’re invisible?” Porter says he asked Dominguez.
Here’s Porter’s eventual full reply:

“I mean… there’s… it’s just not smart. Obviously. And — sorry for taking so long to answer the question — but I went and asked Matt Dominguez, I said, ‘Do you think you’re invisible?’ It’s… I mean, you’re down five-to-nothing and the ball is right in front of you. So, to answer your question, no, I don’t like it. There’s nothing smart about it. And… next question.”

Astros County has done a wonderful job of taking Porter’s staring silence almost frame by frame, and giving us insight into what he was thinking as he replayed Dominguez’s blunder in his head before he answered the question.
It’s funny, because the previous video highlight at MLB.com featuring Dominguez was a brilliant defensive play. He also hit 21 homers in 2013 and is just 24 years old. He’s obviously got some talent. It will just take longer than a few hours to earn Porter’s forgiveness for this transgression.
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James Shields kept the Houston Astros off-balance all night. Then late in Thursday’s 5-1 win, the Kansas City ace really heated up. Shields finished with 12 strikeouts in eight innings as the Royals completed a three-game sweep of the Astros. His 12 strikeouts were his most as a Royal and the most by a Kansas City pitcher since Zack Greinke also struck out 12 on June 13, 2010, against Cincinnati.

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain is headed to the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain, the team announced Thursday. Cain was injured Wednesday night during the Royals’ 6-4 win over the Houston Astros. The Kansas City Star reported that Cain has a Grade 1 strain, which is not as serious, and hopes to return when he is eligible in two weeks. The 28-year-old Cain has proved to be injury prone during his career.

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Here is our first installment of MLB Power Rankings featuring thoughts on each team from Mark Zuckerman, Chase Hughes and myself, Steve Roney:

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HOUSTON — Bit by bit, the Kansas City Royals are showing signs of recovery. On Wednesday, two key components of their roster — third baseman Mike Moustakas and their power-laden bullpen — delivered. Moustakas slapped a leadoff home run to right field in the top of the 11th inning to support a brilliant performance by a quartet of Royals relievers in a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Second baseman Omar Infante added a run-scoring fielder’s choice off Astros right-hander Jerome Williams (0-1) to complete the comeback for Kansas City, which trailed 4-2 entering the seventh.

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