Last night, the Royals pitching staff gave up six home runs, which tied the most allowed in a single game in franchise history. A late lead crumbled and the Detroit Tigers snapped Kansas City's five-game winning streak. On Friday night, the Royals looked to start a new streak behind Yordano Ventura, who had historically pitched well against the Tigers. He did not disappoint.
Ventura dominated and the Royals offense broke out late, culminating in a 5-0 Kansas City victory to even the series. A sellout crowd at the K got to see everything on Friday night - a pitching duel turned runaway victory for the good guys.
Ryan Lefebvre said about 73 times in pre-game that he was anticipating a low-scoring game, and that's exactly what happened. Ventura and Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, who entered the night riding a scoreless streak of 26.2 innings. Neither pitcher blinked in the first five innings. The Royals had two major scoring threats: second-and-third with two outs in the second inning, and bases loaded with one out in the third, but zero runs crossed the plate.
Ventura was fantastic as well, allowing just six singles and no extra-base hits all night. His control over his offspeed pitches has dramatically improved recently, which has resulted in more strikeouts and fewer walks. He's not trying to blow fastballs by hitters every single time. The results are terrific.
In the sixth, Salvador Perez put an end to the longest scoreless streak by a rookie pitcher in over 30 years. He clobbered a two-out, tie-breaking home run over the Royals bullpen in left field. It was his fourth home run in the last eight days, and seemingly every one of them has come at an enormous moment in a game.
Ventura's defense let him down in the top of the seventh, as Victor Martinez singled and went to second on an error by Lorenzo Cain, and then after a strikeout, Justin Upton reached on an error by Cheslor Cuthbert. Ventura was pulled with one out in the sixth, but Kelvin Herrera was called upon to extinguish the fire. He did just that, but not after unleashing a wild pitch to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. He finally won a 10-pitch battle with James McCann by getting the Tigers catcher to ground out to first, ending the threat.
Yordano Ventura now has a scoreless innings streak of 13.1 innings. He has not allowed a run since his brawl with the Orioles Manny Machado.
Ventura's line on Friday night: 6.1 innings, six hits, no runs, no walks and five strikeouts. After walking at least one batter in 22 straight starts, Ventura has suddenly failed to walk a batter in three of his last five outings. He earned the win (6-4) to become the first Royals pitcher to collect his sixth win on the season.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Royals blew the game wide open. Cuthbert led off the frame with a single, and he followed that up with his first major-league stolen base. After Whit Merrifield flied out, Alcides Escobar walked (!), and Brad Ausmus curiously left the righty Shane Greene in to face Eric Hosmer. It would prove to be a mistake, as Hosmer lined the first pitch of his at-bat into left field for an RBI single, doubling the Royals lead.
Things would get worse for the Tigers in a hurry. Mark Lowe was summoned to escape the inning in a 2-0 hole, but after getting Lorenzo Cain to pop out, things unraveled. Perez doubled into the gap in right-center field, plating Escobar and Hosmer and making the deficit 4-0. He then walked Kendrys Morales, and Paulo Orlando blooped a single into center to plate the Royals fifth run of the night.
Kansas City tacked on five additional runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to provide insurance. Hosmer knocked in Merrifield and Escobar to blow the score up to 7-0. Cain singled. And then, Morales obliterated his eighth home run of the year, a booming shot that almost hit the wall of the Royals Hall of Fame. The three-run bomb stretched the margin all the way out to 10-0.
Morales reached base five times on Friday night - a single, three walks, and the mammoth home run. His batting average is up to .212, the highest it has been since May 7.
In all, the Royals scored 9 runs in two innings against the Tigers bullpen. They are not good.
Herrera and Dillon Gee handled the eighth and ninth innings to nail down the win for the Royals. The shutout disappeared when Miguel Cabrera hammered Gee's first pitch of the night into the Sonic Slam seats for his 14th homer of the year. Later in the inning, Justin Upton clobbered a two-run homer off Gee to bring the margin to 10-3.
Fulmer's streak ended at 33.1 consecutive scoreless innings. That's the longest streak by a Tigers pitcher since 1961. He also took his first loss since May 5. He is 7-2 on the year.
The Royals are 36-31. The Indians walked off on the White Sox earlier on Friday night, so Kansas City is still one-half game back of first-place Cleveland.
Tomorrow: Edinson Volquez and Matt Boyd square off to break the 1-1 tie in the series. It's Kendrys Morales bobblehead day at Kauffman Stadium, meaning thousands of fans will be lined up in 95 degree weather for four hours to get the newest handed out at the K.