The Royals need Yordano Ventura to be brilliant tonight.
It’s a tall order for the first rookie in franchise history to start a World Series game at any position.
Down a game to the Giants, though, it’s largely on Ventura’s right shoulder to prevent the Royals from heading to San Francisco in a two-game hole.
Ventura’s teammates aren’t worried.
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“I don’t think he feels pressure,” left-hander Danny Duffy said. “I think he just goes out there and does what he does. He’s got the best stuff on the planet. He’s going to go out there tomorrow and do what he does, and that’s be a warrior.”
Asked why he has faith in Ventura for game two, third baseman Mike Moustakas shot an incredulous look at the out-of-town reporter, “He throws 100. The guy’s got an electric arm, plus breaking ball, plus curveball, plus everything. He can go out there and dominate a lineup just as easy as anybody else can.”
Of course, against the battle-tested Giants, who won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, that’s often easier said than done.
“They make you grind,” Duffy said. “They foul off really good pitches or just spit on them altogether. It’s a very good lineup, a very good hitting team. But we also have the confidence that we can pull this thing out.”
It starts with Ventura.
Manager Ned Yost said Ventura admitted to being too amped up for a relief appearance in the AL Wild Card when he surrendered a three-run home run to Brandon Moss and allowed two runs on two hits in 1/3 of inning.
After the game, Ventura sought out Yost, “He said, ‘I was really excited to come in that ballgame,’ and he said, ‘I got too amped up.’ But he looked at me and said, ‘That won’t happen again.’ You know, and it hasn’t.”
Ventura, 23, from the Dominican Republic, bounced back three days after struggling against the Athletics to pitch seven innings of one-run baseball against the Angels in game two of the AL Division Series.
Ventura also pitched relatively well against the Orioles in game two of the AL Championship Series, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Asked if game two was a must-win, Duffy said, “No, but we’re going to go out there and treat it like it is. Every game that we go out there is a must-win.”