Powered by eight-plus strong innings from Jason Vargas, the Royals beat the Rays 4-2 in Kansas City on Monday night, but the win was overshadowed by a pair of unsettling mid-game departures. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore left in the fifth inning due to a sore elbow, while Kansas City second baseman Omar Infante departed in the seventh after being hit in the face by a pitch.
The Royals were leading 4-0 in the seventh inning when Rays reliever Heath Bell hit Infante in the jaw with an 89 mph two-seam fastball. Infante spun and fell to the ground but never lost consciousness; he was bleeding into a towel as he was was helped from the field by the Royals' trainer, and was replaced in the game by Danny Valencia. Here's a GIF of the pitch (no blood):
Ouch! At this writing, there's no word on Infante's prognosis, but manager Ned Yost told reporters that he fears the second baseman may have a concussion and/or a fractured jaw. The 32-year-old Infante was slowed this spring by a bone spur in his right elbow, but had played in five of the team's six games thus far.
As for Moore, who spent five weeks last year on the disabled list due to elbow inflammation, he could be seen grimacing between pitches as he labored through 4 1/3 innings and struggled with his command, though he held the Royals to just one run. After throwing a ball to Norichika Aoki that evened the count at 2-2, his gesticulations led manager Joe Maddon and a team trainer to visit him on the mound; he was pulled mid-plate appearance in favor of Cesar Ramos, who struck out Aoki looking with his first pitch.
The Rays are already without Jeremy Hellickson due to arthroscopic elbow surgery and Alex Colome due to a 50-game PED suspension. If Moore goes onto the disabled list, the team could call upon Cesar Ramos, who worked as a starter this spring but is now pitching out of the Rays bullpen, or Erik Bedard, who came to camp with the team, was cut and then re-signed when he couldn't find a big-league deal. Bedard put up a 4.59 ERA in 151 innings with the Astros last year.
The two injuries overshadowed a strong performance from Vargas, who limited the Rays to one hit over the first five innings and three hits over eight innings before serving up a solo homer to Ben Zobrist
to lead off the ninth. The Rays put two runners on against closer Greg Holland
, but he struck out pinch-hitter David DeJesus
to end the game.