Despite a baffling lineup* that saw Raul Ibanez at DH instead of Billy Butler and leash on Yordano Ventura that was just barely short enough, Ventura and the big three in the Royals bullpen held off the Rangers' late charge for a 4 - 3 win over the worst team in baseball.
*We'll give Ned Yost the benefit of the doubt on Peguero getting the start in right field over Lorenzo Cain, as right-hander Colby Lewis was the starter and Cain had started 11 times in 13 days.
For the first six innings, Yordano Ventura looked pretty good. Through his first six frames, Ventura allowed just one run and two hits to go along with the four walks and seven strikeouts.
He entered the top of the seventh having thrown just 89 pitches. Without intimate knowledge of Ventura's back situation, there's no real point in speculating on whether his pitch count should have been limited at x pitches. Of course, Ventura kicked things off by allowing a lead-off double to Adam Rosales, who ripped a 90-mph change-up in the heart of the plate over Alex Gordon's head and onto the dirt of the warning track. On the very next pitch, Tomas Telis drove a 98-mph offering on the outside portion of the plate the other way to left center. Telis got a Little League double thanks to Jarrod Dyson's inability to get the ball into the webbing of his glove. After Dyson's boner, Ventura fell behind Rougned Odor 2 - 0 before inducing a ground ball on a 98-mph heater that didn't fool Odor for a second and was scorched on the ground right to Hosmer who was playing well off the line. With Telis advancing to third on the ground out, Michael Choice took an 89-mph change-up, again left up, and knocked it to the right of the diving Alcides Escobar to draw the Rangers to a mere one-run deficit at 4 - 3.
Thankfully Kelvin Herrera was able to exfiltrate the Royals from the jam that Ventura got them in with a mere three pitches, inducing a double-play grounder right up the middle. After Jarrod Dyson rounded second too aggressively on a should-have-been-double off the wall in right to lead off the seventh, the Royals pinned their hopes to Cool Stuff and Dirty South ability to shut things down. Wade Davis and Greg Holland did what they do, and the Royals held the lead.
Offensively, the Royals output came primarily from Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez. Gordon walked and stole second his first time to the plate and was driven in by a subsequent Salvador Perez double. In the third, Gordon ripped a double of his own, and Salvador Perez hung dong gloriously, depositing his shot into the pen in left. Moustakas drove in Carlos Peguero, who had reached on a double of his own, with a single to right field. That was the entirety of the Royals' scoring effort, which should be cause for concern. Insisting on living in a world in which a 42-year-old Raul Ibanez slashing .172/.260/.309 should ever see a start at designated hitter over Billy Butler probably means there is an overarching ideology that could make scoring runs problematic.
The Royals still hold possession of first place by a half-game, but only by technicality thanks to the suspended game in which they trail 4 - 2 that will resume on September 22nd.