When KC Royals rookie starter Yordano Ventura walked off the field at Kauffman Stadium after being removed from the game with two men on base and two outs in the 6th inning in his first ever big league start, he walked off to a standing ovation from the Royals faithful. With a tip of the cap and a smile, he retired to the dugout hoping for his first Major League win.
Instead, the visiting Cleveland Indians had other plans, as they came back to beat the Royals usually stingy bullpen, 5-3.
I didn’t have a chance to keep tabs on the Ventura start, as I was in Allentown, PA glued to my seating watching the superb start by Chris Dwyer in the Triple-A Championship for Omaha (more on that later today I promise).
According to what I read on Twitter, Ventura topped out at 101.9 mph, which is the highest speed of any starting pitcher of the past five seasons. Not bad for the rookie. What I was more impressed with was his pitch count and his ball-to-strike ratio, which has been a problem for him over his minor league career. He threw 86 pitches, 50 for strikes. (So that is just 36 balls for those of you who have trouble with math).
Overall, he allowed one run on five hits and two walks over 5.2 innings. He struck out three. Not a bad start in a playoff race for the rookie.
Now that usually reliable bullpen…
It had been well-rested with manager Ned Yost choosing to stick with his starters rather than go to the bullpen, which is the best in the American League. Last night, he went to the ‘pen and it faltered.
Lefty Will Smith only faced one batter, but walked him on five pitches. That loaded the bases in the sixth, but Louis Coleman continued his dominance by striking out the only batter he faced to end the threat on six pitches. He lowered his miniscule ERA to 0.35.
Kelvin Herrera continued his struggles by allowing two runs in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3. With one out, he hit a batter who came around to score on Michael Bourn‘s triple. Bourn would score on Nick Swisher‘s sac fly.
Luke Hochevar even allowed a run in the ninth when Bourn led off the inning with a solo home run.
The Royals offense also was non-existent after chasing Indians starter Corey Kluber from the game with two outs in the fifth. They had a total of nine hits, but six of them came off Kluber. The Royals collected three singles and worked one walk over the game’s final four innings.
The Royals hope to stay in the AL Wild Card race as they complete their series with the Indians. Bruce Chen goes up against rookie Danny Salazar, who will be under a strict pitch count. Tuesday night’s loss kept the Royals tied with the NY Yankees at 3.5 games back of the final spot. The Indians are still a 1/2 game back of a playoff spot, as TB and Texas are tied again.