Royals

Yordano Ventura’s arm, Kendrys Morales’ bat lift Royals in 8-3 victory over White Sox

Yordano Ventura allowed three runs over nine innings for the Royals’ second nine-inning complete game of the year.
Yordano Ventura allowed three runs over nine innings for the Royals’ second nine-inning complete game of the year. jsleezer@kcstar.com

As Yordano Ventura walked back to the mound in the ninth inning on Monday afternoon, manager Ned Yost sequestered himself in a corner of the Royals’ clubhouse, his eyes locked on a television screen. It was a new experience for both.

Ventura had never finished a nine-inning complete game in 90 career starts, and Yost had never found himself here, watching his flamethrowing starter on television after being ejected in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The setup was less than ideal, but the different perspective allowed Yost to do something he rarely does: admire the sheer potency of Ventura’s repertoire. From a chair in the clubhouse, Yost could track the break on Ventura’s curveball and the precision on his change-up. As Ventura closed out the Chicago White Sox in an 8-3 victory, Yost gazed at the radar-gun readings on the broadcast.

“At 105 pitches,” Yost said, “he’s still throwing 99 mph.”

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Ventura, 25, who logged an eight-inning complete game in a loss earlier this year, became the youngest Kansas City starter to throw a nine-inning complete game since Zack Greinke on April 14, 2008. He allowed just three earned runs in nine innings as the Royals, 77-73, closed out an eight-game home stand with three straight wins and a series victory over the division-rival White Sox.

By late Monday afternoon, the home stand had still concluded with a 3-5 mark against Oakland and Chicago, a stretch that chipped away at the Royals’ faint playoff hopes. But as the team packed for a three-game series in Cleveland, they had finished a disappointing week with two dominating performances.

“It is what it is,” Yost said. “Coming off a real good series in Chicago last week, I felt like we had some momentum, and Oakland just stomped on that momentum. But we gathered back up.”

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Replicating a formula from Sunday’s 10-3 victory, designated hitter Kendrys Morales homered for a second straight day, blasting a three-run shot into the fountains in left field in the fifth. The homer gave Morales 29 this season. With one more homer, Morales will become the first Royal to hit 30 homers since Jermaine Dye in 2000.

But that was just the start. Paulo Orlando cracked his fifth homer of the season. Alcides Escobar set a career high with his sixth home run — before being tossed in the fifth. Billy Burns (three hits) and Whit Merrifield (two hits) combined for four runs scored while batting atop the lineup.

As an announced crowd of 31,502 gathered inside Kauffman Stadium for a makeup of a rainout earlier this year, the Royals finished the season 14-5 against the White Sox, improving to 42-22 against the American League Central. The performance may not lead to a second straight division title or a third straight postseason appearance. But as the Royals head out on their final road trip, making stops in Cleveland and Detroit, they can still guarantee a fourth straight winning season — something the franchise has not accomplished since 1977-80.

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Forgive the Royals, if such things were not on their minds Monday morning. At just past 10:30 a.m., the Royals’ clubhouse was still mostly empty. Music hummed in the background at a reasonable level. A row of blue equipment bags lined the floor, ready to be packed onto a team charter. One by one, players sauntered into the room.

On the final day of the home stand, Yost had allowed his team a late arrival before an afternoon matinee. As the room filled with players, some arriving after 11 a.m., the mood toed the line between subdued and relaxed. The quiet morning belied the crisp effort to come.

Escobar and Orlando clubbed solo homers off White Sox starter Carlos Rodon in the second, producing a 2-1 lead. The offense roared for four more runs in the fifth, blowing the game wide open. From there, the only drama concerned the strike zone and Ventura’s bid at a complete game.

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With two outs in the fifth, Escobar took issue with a 3-1 strike call by home plate umpire Toby Basner. Still upset by a similar call earlier in the game, Escobar spoke up, earning himself an ejection. Moments later, Yost emerged from the dugout and drew an ejection of his own.

“I said something I probably shouldn’t have said,” Yost said.

Escobar described his ejection in simple terms.

“I say that’s a bad pitch right there,” he said. “In the at-bat before, he do the same thing, and I don’t say nothing. But the second time I say, ‘I say, clean it up, man. That’s a ball.’ He say, get in the (batter’s box). I say that’s bull. Then he throw me out.”

With the Royals in control, Yost returned to the quiet of of the clubhouse after his 39th career ejection. As the final four innings played out, he found a spot in front of a television.

He watched the offense put up two more runs, and Eric Hosmer collect his 97th RBI — extending his career high — and Ventura finish things off in the ninth. By his 106th pitch, Ventura had struck out five and lowered his season ERA to 4.35. Moments later, Yost was ready to greet his team.

“I’ve never had a chance to watch him on TV like that,” Yost said of Ventura. “His stuff was moving all over the place. Great curveball. Great change-up. He did a phenomenal job of managing his pitch count today to put him in position, with a five-run lead, to have a complete game.”

Monday’s box score

Royals 8, White Sox 3

Chicago

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Eaton cf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.282

Anderson ss

3

0

0

0

1

1

.279

Cabrera lf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.296

Abreu 1b

4

1

2

1

0

0

.300

Morneau dh

4

1

2

0

0

0

.261

Frazier 3b

4

0

2

1

0

1

.221

Garcia rf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.248

Narvaez c

4

0

0

0

0

0

.250

Sanchez 2b

4

1

1

1

0

2

.186

Totals

35

3

9

3

1

5

 

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Burns cf

4

2

3

0

0

0

.304

Merrifield 2b

5

2

2

1

0

2

.288

Hosmer 1b

5

1

2

2

0

0

.272

Morales dh

3

1

1

3

0

0

.262

Orlando rf

4

1

1

1

0

1

.296

Gordon lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.215

Escobar ss

2

1

1

1

0

0

.269

a-Mondesi ph-ss

2

0

0

0

0

1

.187

Colon 3b

2

0

1

0

1

0

.233

Cuthbert 3b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.273

Butera c

4

0

0

0

0

3

.264

Totals

36

8

12

8

1

8

 

Chicago

010

100

100

3

9

1

Royals

020

042

00x

8

12

0

a-flied out for Escobar in the 5th.

E: Rodon (1). LOB: Chicago 6, Kansas City 7. 2B: Eaton (27), Morneau (14), Merrifield (19), Colon (6). 3B: Garcia (2). HR: Abreu (25), off Ventura; Sanchez (2), off Ventura; Orlando (5), off Rodon; Escobar (6), off Rodon; Morales (29), off Rodon. RBIs: Abreu (96), Frazier (94), Sanchez (14), Merrifield (25), Hosmer 2 (97), Morales 3 (88), Orlando (39), Escobar (50). SB: Burns (17), Merrifield (7), Gordon (8). CS: Frazier (4).

Runners left in scoring position: Chicago 4 (Anderson, Narvaez 3); Kansas City 4 (Morales, Orlando, Butera 2). RISP: Chicago 2 for 6; Kansas City 4 for 9. Runners moved up: Hosmer.

Chicago

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Rodon L, 7-10

4

8

6

6

1

4

96

4.29

Minaya

1

0

0

0

0

0

13

0.00

Smith

1

3

2

2

0

1

23

6.75

Kahnle

1

0

0

0

0

1

8

3.13

Ranaudo

1

1

0

0

0

2

12

8.78

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Ventura W, 11-11

9

9

3

3

1

5

106

4.35

Rodon pitched to 4 batters in the 5th.

HBP: Rodon (Burns), Smith (Morales). WP: Rodon.

Umpires: Home, Toby Basner; First, Tripp Gibson; Second, Jerry Layne; Third, Hunter Wendelstedt. Time: 2:35. Att: 31,502.

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