Yordano Ventura will get a do-over Monday when the Royals and Astros play Game 4 of their American League Division Series.
He’ll be the starting pitcher, Ned Yost said Saturday, just three days after Ventura pitchedtwo innings in the Royals’ 5-2 loss in Game 1.
Ventura, 24 and one year removed from his first major-league postseason, will face Astros righty Lance McCullers, a 22-year-old rookie who went 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts after being called up from Class AA in May. No matter what the result in Game 3 on Sunday, one of these young men will be pitching for their team’s season as Game 4 represents an elimination game in the best-of-five Division Series format.
McCullers beat the Royals on June 29 in Houston, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of a 5-2 Astros victory, striking out six and walking two.
“He’s not a rookie any more,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s going to be his first playoff start and he’s going to have to channel some energy, he’ll do it in front of some rowdy fans that are in his corner, but for us, he’s answered every challenge that we have given him.”
Ventura gave up two runs in the first inning and another in the second before a nearly one-hour rain delay. Yost said it was too long of a wait to send Ventura back, and it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would be brought back for Game 4.
In the first inning, Ventura left a curveball up to leadoff hitter Jose Altuve and, following a nine-pitch walk to George Springer, Carlos Correa smashed a 2-2 curveball, loading the bases. Colby Rasmus hit another Ventura curveball into a RBI groundout for the game’s first run.
Ventura threw 24 pitches in the first inning and 18 in the second.
“I just felt like he was starting to get in his rhythm when the rain came,” Yost said.