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ative in the not-so distant future

  • 30 July

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Erik Kratz had played in only five games for Kansas City since being acquired from Toronto in a trade on July 28. Sammie Coates Texans Jersey . But the big guy always stayed ready and that discipline paid off Monday night to keep the Royals rolling. Kratz homered twice after replacing an ailing Salvador Perez, and Jason Vargas pitched seven strong innings to lead the first-place Royals to a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. "You put your work in before the game as a bench guy to be ready to go in," Kratz said. "Some people could say well, Salvi plays every day, so why not take a day off? In my opinion, whats the point of taking a day off if that might be the day you come in and play?" Vargas (10-5) allowed one run on four this and struck out three, but had his scoreless innings streak snapped at 17 when Oswaldo Arcia hit a solo homer in the seventh. Perez had two hits and two RBIs before leaving in the seventh because of discomfort in his right knee, helping the Royals win for the 21st time in 26 games. Kansas City extended its lead over the idle Detroit Tigers in the AL Central to two games. Trevor May (0-2) gave up three runs on seven hits and walked four in 4 2-3 innings for the Twins. When Perez left, Kratz came in as a pinch hitter and broke his bat on a pitch from Anthony Swarzak, but still managed to muscle it over the wall in left field for a 4-0 lead. Kratz added a solo shot to centre in the ninth for his first multihomer game. The drives proved even more important when Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer off Aaron Crow in the ninth inning. "Its great to help the team out when you do get in there for any bench guy," Kratz said. Greg Holland came on for his 38th save in 40 tries. Josh Willingham had three hits and Alex Gordon and Billy Butler each had two for the Royals, who have won eight straight series for the first time since 1991. May made his major league debut on Aug. 9, and it was a rough one. He walked seven batters in two innings and gave up four runs. He breezed through four innings of his home debut, but walked the bases loaded in the fifth. Perez followed with a two-run single and Butler added an RBI single to give the Royals a 3-0 lead. That was enough for Vargas, who has dominated the Twins this season. He retired 10 in a row from the second through sixth while his offence built him a cushion. "Salvis a huge part of our team, but we have to keep him healthy and keep him in it for the long haul," Vargas said. "For Kratz to come in and step up and go big fly twice was pretty nice, especially when they were able to extend the game a little bit there. Those two home runs really counted." TRAINERS ROOM Royals: Perez is day to day with a sore knee. Manager Ned Yost said Perez tweaked a tendon in his knee while running the bases in the fifth inning, but was removed purely as a precaution. Twins: Byron Buxton, one of the top prospects in baseball, flew to Fort Myers, Florida, to begin his recovery after a nasty outfield collision at Double-A New Britain. GM Terry Ryan said Buxton had a stiff neck and some headaches, but nothing more serious. Ryan said he doubts Buxton will play again this season. "Were all fortunate it ended up the way it ended up," Ryan said. "Weve seen collisions in our day, but that one ranked right up there." UP NEXT The Royals open a two-game interleague series in Colorado. RHP James Shields (11-6, 3.29 ERA) starts the opener against LHP Tyler Matzek (2-8, 5.50). The Twins stay home for a three-game series against Cleveland. RHP Kyle Gibson (11-9, 3.96) starts the opener against RHP Trevor Bauer (4-7, 4.35). EARLY EXIT Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didnt stick around very long. When plate umpire Chris Segal called Joe Mauer out on strikes in the first inning, the mild-mannered first baseman argued that he fouled the third strike and it hit the dirt before Perez caught it. Segal disagreed, and Gardenhire came to Mauers defence before returning to the bench. Moments later, Segal ejected Gardenhire after the conversation apparently continued from the dugout. It was the fifth time this season and 72nd time in his career that Gardenhire was ejected. Martinas Rankin Jersey . - Aroldis Chapman, with two black eyes, has returned to the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse four days after being hit in the face by a line drive. Jordan Akins Texans Jersey . -- Felix Girard scored on the power play in the third period to lift the Baie-Comeau Drakkar past the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday.It is only in Cup competition you can really call a win a disappointment.  On a night heavily skewing in Toronto FCs favour, a 2-1 victory over a virtual Vancouver Whitecaps reserve team hardly flatters.  The first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship was an opportunity for Toronto to take control of the tie.  Mission failed.   Vancouver Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson elected to rest his regulars looking ahead to Saturdays game against the Columbus Crew.  Even with 29-year-old Nigel Reo-Coker in the lineup, the average age of the Whitecaps starting XI was 21.6, including 17-year-old Canadian goalkeeper Marco Carducci.  It was a glimpse of the future for Vancouver.  The kids were alright.  Toronto FC was less convincing.  Toronto, with the week off until the return leg next Wednesday in Vancouver, had the luxury to play a regular starting XI.  With only two changes from last weekends loss to New England, Toronto FC began the night heavy favourites.  Instead, heavy legs, heavy touches, and heavy lifting were needed to see the game out.  The Whitecaps grew in confidence and the manager played his cards right.  Robinson, seeing weakness in TFC and his team grow into the match brought on attacking players Kekuta Manneh and Sebastian Fernandez late, pushing for an away goal.  Although Vancouver conceded in the 89th minute en route, they found the precious goal in time added on and head home next week as favourite to advance.   Manneh scored the goal. Not the prettiest, but a timely and much needed strike in aggregate competition.  Toronto FC substitute Dwayne De Rosario was lucky to stay on the field after landing a forearm to the face of the goal scorer amongst a pile of flailing arms as Vancouver tried to get the ball back to midfield as soon as possible.  Manneh and De Rosario saw yellow before the game died out and the final whistle blew.   The script never seems to be straightforward for Toronto FC.  They have seldom been the dominant side in any match thus far this season.  Team commitment, work rate and shape remain solid, but interplay, build up, and execution in the final third continue to be issues.  It takes time for a team of new faces to come together.  With the World Cup break rapidly approaching, time is ticking for the team to click.   Here are my five thoughts from Toronto FCs 2-1 victory: 1) Two is not enough - Toronto FC dictated proceedings all night long, rendering Vancouver reliant on the counter-attack.  The build-up remained consistent and decent until reaching the final third.  In and around the opposing 18-yard box, the team remains a mess, with the exception of Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley.  Good thing the big money players are coming through because the rest of the team needs to be much better in dangerous areas.  The final ball is often erratic.  And when the ball is on a platter, the finishing goes awry.  There isnt just one culprit.  They are too easily letting defenders off the hook.  Its all sloppy, too direct and too easy to mark.  Part of the issue is the team playing too narrow.  Justin Morrow and Mark Bloom rarely get involved in the attack to overlap in to dangerous areas.  The bulk of the attacking play comes down the middle, with even the outside midfielders coming far too inside.  More than two goals should have been had against a team of inexperienced kids.  Now Toronto has to go out west and get a result.  The pressure will be on the Whitecaps to get a goal, which may put Toronto back in their comfort zone playing on the counter.  2) Oh, Gilberto - More of the good and bad on display by Gilberto.  Hes not doing himself or the club any favours dispelling the notion he wasnt worth the club giving up Matias Laba.  The ups and downs in his game are so pronounced he may as well be called Two-Face.  For a player who predicted a 25-goal season, the polish in front of goal is simply not there.&  Some nice interplay between Defoe and Issey Nakajima-Farran in the 21st minute broke Toronto FC free down the left flank. Keke Coutee Jersey.   The Canadian Internationals cross was on point, finding Gilberto wide open on the far post at the six-yard box.  The Brazilian headed wide; a brutal miss by any standard.  Its now been seven games without a goal for the striker.  The good: the work rate remains a plus and glimpses of his ability surface from time to time.  Gilberto dropped deep into space to gain possession and played a crafty ball behind the back line, springing Defoe on his goal.  More of this kind of positive play will ease the critics.  They will ultimately not be silenced until he starts scoring goals.  Designated Players must be impactful.  Thus far, the returns are subpar.  With an injured Bright Dike and De Rosario struggling to find form, a productive Gilberto is essential for sustained team success. 3) Defoe does it again - Defoe looked much sharper in his second game back returning from a nagging hamstring injury.  His quickness and superior movement was on full display in the win.  Defoe was cool in front of goal, composed as ever beating Carducci for his 28th minute opener, his fourth wearing red.  Defoe played provider on Bradleys 89th minute winner, drawing two defenders to him before playing a diagonal ball finding Bradley in space.  Whenever he gets the ball in and around the box, he is a threat and has the ability to create on his own.  Thats why its so important for the Englishman to be more involved.  There were stretches in the game where he faded out of the match when Toronto FC was too sloppy in possession.  He needs the ball played to his feet and his teammates to do better moving off the ball, finding space.  Defoes touch is sublime and distribution is spot on.  As long as Defoe stays fit, Toronto FC will remain a threat in every match they play.  Hes far too dangerous. 4) Hail Cesar - Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar was named to the Brazilian squad for this summers World Cup in his home country.  Cesars inclusion doesnt surprise with a resume second to none and showing good form since his arrival in Toronto.  He has fit in with the team exceptionally well, on and off the field.  Last years starting goalkeeper, Joe Bendik, will be called upon as stand-in upon Cesars World Cup absence.  Bendik got his first start Wednesday and picked up where he left off last season with strong play.  Bendik came to the rescue in the 44th minute, making a big save on Russell Teibert who found space inside the Toronto FC 18-yard box.  It was instinctive stuff, with Bendik reading the play, coming off his line and staying big.  Doneil Henry helped out Bendik seconds later, clearing Nicolas Mezquidas effort off the goalline.  Bendik came up big again in the 75th minute with a pair of timely saves on Omar Saldado.  The goal conceded was a mess with the defending all over the place.  The blame hardly falls on the goalkeeper.  There was enough on display Wednesday to alleviate any worry about a significant dip in goalkeeping when Cesar is gone.  But theres no question who remains the number one.   5) Not your average Joe - Linesman Joe Fletcher manned the west-side touchline for the match.  Much bigger games lay ahead for the Niagara Falls native in the not-so distant future.  The 37-year old will be running the touchline at this summers World Cup, just over a month away.  The assistant referee will link up with an American duo to form one of the 25 officiating crews in Brazil.  The last Canadian official to participate at a World Cup was Hector Vergara who was part of the 2002, 2006, and 2010 competitions.  Wishing Joe the best of luck and safe travels this summer. Next up for Toronto FC is the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal tie in Vancouver against the Whitecaps, Wednesday May 14 at BC Place. Wholesale Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Hoodies Stitched Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale Throwback Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale Throwback Jerseys ' ' '