Newly promoted Vasquez settles down, pitches Padres past Royals

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Fernando Tatis Jr. got the Padres offense going with a 422-foot solo homer in the top of the first to give San Diego an early 1-0 lead.

The Padres starting rotation took a big toll Saturday when both right-handers Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish were placed on the 15-day injured list.

To regain some much-needed depth in the rotation, San Diego recalled right-hander Randy Vásquez from Triple-A El Paso to start Saturday’s game in Kansas City. 

After giving up a first-inning two-run home run to Vinnie Pasquantino, Vásque he found his groove and pitched five quality innings in a 7-3 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Vásquez allowed only four hits and three earned runs with five strikeouts and one walk. 

The San Diego bullpen took in the sixth as relievers Adrian Morejon, Jeremiah Estrada, Wandy Peralta and Robert Suarez combined for four shutout innings.

Fernando Tatis Jr. got the Padres offense going with a 422-foot solo homer in the top of the first to give San Diego a 1-0 lead.

San Diego’s offense was powered by Ha-Seong Kim, who tripled and scored in the third inning. Then, while trailing 3-2 in the fourth, Kim cleared the bases with a go-ahead three-run double to left field off Royals starter Alec Marsh (4-3). 

Kyle Higashioka also got in the action, homering in the ninth for his second home run of the season. 

San Diego (32-29) is three games over .500 for the first time this season and will look to take a three-game sweep in the series finale Sunday.

Here are three takeaways:

Darvish, Musgrove shelved

Darvish left his most recent start against the Marlins on Wednesday after three innings and 66 pitches with a groin strain.  His 15-day injured list move was made retroactive to Thursday and Darvish stayed back in San Diego.

Musgrove – who spent time on the injured list in May with the same injury (elbow inflammation) – was scratched and returned on the injured list retroactive to Wednesday.

Logan Gillaspie, recalled from Triple-A El Paso along with Vásquez, replaced Darvish. Gillaspie has made two appearances with San Diego this season, pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

Padres heating up

The Padres have won five of their last six games, putting them five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for second place in the National League West.

While it will be very difficult to win the division, the Padres are 1 1/2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants for the second NL Wild Card spot. They still trail the Atlanta Braves by five games for the first wild card spot, a team they took three out of four games a few weeks ago.

Bullpen dominance continues

After five solid innings by Vásquez, the San Diego bullpen looked stellar. The relievers allowed four hits.

However, Jeremiah Estrada saw his his record 13 consecutive strikeouts end, despite getting two strikeouts and allowing two hits. The bullpen will need to continue their dominance if they want to help with the loss of injured Musgrove and Darvish.

The Padres will send right-hander Michael King (4-4, 4.09 ERA) to face Royals left-hander Cole Ragans (4-4, 3.36) for the 11:10 a.m. Sunday game.