Daily 49er

Former Dirtbags inch closer to the World Series

A pair of Long Beach State Dirtbags advanced in the MLB postseason, while others were eliminated.

Kansas+City+Royals+starting+pitcher+Jason+Vargas+throws+in+the+first+inning+against+the+Cleveland+Indians+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+29%2C+2014%2C+at+Kauffman+Stadium+in+Kansas+City%2C+Mo.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

John Sleezer / Kansas City Star (MCT)

John Sleezer / Kansas City Star (MCT)

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Oscar Terrones, Assistant Sports Editor

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With two series already decided in the Divisional round of the MLB postseason, two former Long Beach State Dirtbags are locks to advance to their respective Championship Series.

The Angels may have had the best record in baseball during the regular season, but they were a painfully flawed team whose deficiencies caught up with them at the worst time. Former Dirtbag Jered Weaver, though, did his best to cover up the shortcomings of the team by throwing seven impressive innings in game one of the American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals.

Weaver struck six and only gave up two runs, but the Angels lost in extra innings, and eventually were swept in three games by the Royals.

Weaver was matched pitch-for-pitch by former teammate Jason Vargas, who went six strong innings while only giving up two runs. Vargas only had two strikeouts, but he used his pin-point command and excellent defense behind him to stifle the Angels’ potent offense.

Vargas’ performance will be crucial for the Royals moving forward. He’ll likely start game one or two against the Baltimore Orioles in the American Championship Series, and that means playing in Baltimore’s hitter-friendly ballpark Camden Yards.

If Vargas has to start in Baltimore, he’ll be put on a short leash, meaning manager Ned Yost won’t hesitate to pull him from the game if he sees his starter struggling. Vargas is more than capable of pitching a great game in any ballpark, though, and he’ll need to against the Orioles if he wants his team to advance to the World Series.

While Vargas and Weaver came up big for their respective A.L. teams, the Dirtbags in the National League have been kept quiet. Nationals’ utility infielder Danny Espinosa has been held hitless through four at-bats, and Giants infielder Matt Duffy has barely played.

Still, one of these two former Dirtbags will advance to the National League Championship Series, and at some point they will play an important role in their respective team’s success.

Espinosa is a switch hitter capable of playing multiple positions on the infield. While he didn’t show it during the season, he has a reputation of hitting for power. A team’s bench becomes vital the deeper it gets into the postseason. Espinosa will prove to be a valuable asset if the Nationals advance.

The Pittsburgh Pirates right-handers Jared Hughes and Vance Worley didn’t factor much in their team’s short playoff run. The Pirates were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card game, with Hughes giving up two runs on three hits in his lone inning of work in an 8-0 blowout loss. Worley didn’t get in the game at all.

With two already assured a spot in the Champion Series, this could be the first time a Dirtbags player appears in the World Series since Evan Longoria led the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. No matter how recognizable they become with their current teams, they will always be Dirtbags first.

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