In his final extended appearance in the Cactus League, Yordano Ventura reminded just how devastating he can be. He completed seven innings of a 5-1 victory over the Mariners on Friday night without allowing a hit, cruising into his allotted pitch limit without much resistance from his opponents.
Ventura departed because he had thrown 88 pitches — and not because Seattle caused him any trouble. In a spring-training game, there is little reason to expose a pitcher to the sort of strain required for a no-hitter. But Ventura offered evidence that he is capable of matching a feat no Royal has completed since a Bret Saberhagen no-no on Aug. 26, 1991.
“Everybody knows it’s spring training,” Ventura said. “If you’re throwing a no-hitter or a perfect game, you’re still out in the game. You need to be strong.”
Earlier this week, manager Ned Yost selected Ventura to be his opening day starter. Ventura responded with his best outing of the spring. He now holds a 5.14 Cactus League ERA after a series of rough outings at the outset. He will throw about 60 pitches in his last tuneup next week.
Then, the White Sox loom in the opener. Ventura intends to be ready. The organization expects him to complete 200 innings in a season for the first time in his career. As a rookie last season, Ventura finished with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings. He earned his role at the top of the staff based of his performance in the World Series, Yost said earlier this week.
On Friday, Ventura relied on soft contact from Seattle to cruise. He notched four strikeouts. He worked around a pair of walks. Otherwise, his line was spotless.
His array of pitches impressed his manager.
“He made some really nice adjustments there on his breaking ball,” Yost said. “Where he would over-throw one and come back and get the timing and the tempo and the feel of it. And then he would throw a really, really good one.
“He threw some really, really good cutters. Some good change-ups. And, of course, his fastball was excellent.”
A two-run homer by Eric Hosmer ignited the Royals’ offense in the first inning. He turned around an inside cutter from Seattle starter James Paxton for his third home run of the spring.
In the fourth, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas each contributed RBI doubles. Alcides Escobar collected a walk with the bases loaded to complete the three-run frame. Jason Frasor allowed a run in the eighth.
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