The Yordano Ventura whose belated arrival all of Kansas City was anxiously awaiting all this season finally showed up at Kauffman Stadium tonight. The first six weeks of the season were trying for all involved, but if this Ventura had been making his way to the mound each time through the rotation, no one would be talking about a couple of incidents from the first few weeks of the season.
Facing a relatively patient, dong-prone Reds offense, Ventura pounded the strike zone, working low in the zone, inducing ground ball contact and generating easy heat with his fastball. It took him just 88 pitches to get through the seventh inning, but coming off an off-day and in the first of a two-game series before the Royals get another day off Thursday, there was no need to keep Ventura out there for an eighth inning.
That wasn't to say he struggled at any point.
Ventura had retired 10 of the final 11
Communists Reds he faced. In fact, the flame-throwing righty allowed just four base-runners, all reaching on meagerly struck singles. He struck out six and walked none en route to lowering his ERA 0.80 points from 5.36 to 4.56. If someone had not seen the Royals and Yordano Ventura play since the World Series, he or she would not have seen any difference between the pitcher on the mound then and now. Strangely, it seemed like only Devin Mesoraco had any luck against any of the Royals pitchers, collecting two of the four hits Ventura allowed and drawing a four-pitch walk from Kelvin Herrera--the only base-runner he allowed in the eighth.
Ventura's counterpart, Johnny Cueto, looked relatively good tonight, but the Royals' offense--driven largely by Mike Moustakas and Omar Infante--scored three runs off their ace. Spread out over three separate attacks, the Royals slapped and clawed their way to solitary runs in the second, fifth, and seventh innings. In each frame, the Royals got their lead-off man aboard, first Eric Hosmer, then Paulo Orlando, and finally Omar Infante. In the second, Omar Infante hit a two-out single with Hosmer at second and Kendrys Morales at first, plating the Son of God. Come the fifth, Mike Moustakas clubbed a double to right, driving in Orlando following an Alcides Escobar sacrifice bunt. In the seventh, Moustakas roped a two-out double to the gap in left-center, pushing Omar Infante home.
The Royals managed nine hits and one walk off of Cueto and got nothing done against reliever J.J. Hoover in the eighth.
As mentioned, Ned Yost fingered Kelvin Herrera in the eighth and Wade Davis in the ninth. Whether this means anything in regards to Greg Holland's health or effectiveness is anyone's guess (or more like is information that is out there, but the author had no time to find out while writing this recap). With the Brewers routing the Tigers, the Royals now hold a two game lead in the American League Central, though surprisingly the Twins trail the Tigers by just half a game for second place.
Greg Holland addendum:
Greg Holland had a stiff neck, Ned Yost says.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) May 20, 2015