Royals take series as Ventura dazzles

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There are many buzzwords bouncing around the Royals clubhouse on August 27, 2015. Magic Number. Home Field. Hitting streaks, etc. etc. But today there is just one word you should pay attention to: Ace.

Yordano Ventura’s recent resurgence continued today with another dominant performance and arguably his best start of the season. The 24-year old tallied a career-high 11 strikeouts on 98 pitches in a 5-3 victory against the Baltimore Orioles. His curveball returned to its 2014 postseason form and he topped 100-MPH more than 10 times.  Over six innings, Ventura surrendered just two hits, both singles by Paul Janish.

Of course all of this is impressive, but what might be most impressive is how Ventura responded in the early going. The game was delayed by more than an hour and a half because of rain, which rarely works in a pitcher’s favor. And early on, it looked like it would not be Ventura’s day. He walked two of the first three batters of the game and both of which were full counts. Even though he struck out the side, Ventura’s day did not appear it would last long. After that only four batters reached base through Ventura’s six innings: the two aforementioned hits by Janish, an error by Jarrod Dyson in the 2nd and a walk in the 6th.

Over the past four starts by Ventura, he is 3-0, is striking out more than one batter an inning and has given up just three runs. There is no way to tangibly prove that Johnny Cueto’s presence on the Royals bench has helped Ventura, but it is hard to argue against it. The pressure of being “the guy” has been lifted and Yordano can go back to just throwing the baseball at Salvador Perez’s mitt. Since the Cueto trade, Ventura has not lost and has struck out five or more in every game but two.  Any arguments of Ventura not being in the Postseason rotation seem to fading away by the minute.

There is another phenomenon happening on the other side of the ball: Michael Christopher Moustakas. Just weeks ago, questions were being asked of “What is wrong with Mike Moustakas?” Now, the Third Baseman is one of the hottest hitters in the game. Over the past seven games, Moustakas is hitting .500 (13-26), with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He tallied a three-hit game today and added another two RBIs, which proved to be the difference in today’s series finale.

Alex Rios joined the party with three hits of his own, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Apparently, all Rios needed was a little public shaming to break out of his season-long spell. The oft-detested Right Fielder is hitting .520 over the past week. In the race to be Ben Zobrist’s back-up once Alex Gordon returns the lineup, Rios has a clear offensive advantage against Omar Infante.

The Royals sat Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer for the Thursday matinee. Kendrys Morales got the start at first and flashed some leather with an incredible pick in the later innings. The bench erupted.

This team, once again, proved that they can beat you many ways. Although they got a home run from Paulo Orlando in the 6th, every other run was produced via single or sacrifice fly. Every aspect of this team is clicking right now, and there’s no sign of slowing any time soon.

 

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Author: Dave Sullivan

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