SURPRISE, Ariz. – 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 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 his pitch count was 95 – 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.
Earlier this week, manager Ned Yost named Ventura 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 innings in his last tuneup next week.
Then, the White Sox loom. Ventura intends to be ready. The organization expects him to complete 200 innings for the first time in his career. As a rookie last season, Ventura finished with a 3.20 ERA in 183 frames. He earned his role at the top of the staff based on 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.
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.