Royals

Yordano Ventura ignites brawl, Orioles rough up Royals 9-1 for sixth straight loss

The Kansas City Royals’ and Baltimore Orioles’ benches cleared after KC's Yordano Ventura hit Baltimore’s Manny Machado with a pitch in the fifth inning. The Orioles followed with back-to-back home runs.
The Kansas City Royals’ and Baltimore Orioles’ benches cleared after KC's Yordano Ventura hit Baltimore’s Manny Machado with a pitch in the fifth inning. The Orioles followed with back-to-back home runs. The Associated Press

The final pitch of Yordano Ventura’s night was a fastball, a 99-mph missile unleashed with vague intention and potent accuracy, a powder keg flung toward the midsection of Orioles shortstop Manny Machado.

The pitch would burrow into the ribs of Machado and light a fuse here on Tuesday night. The pitch — Ventura’s fastest of the night — laid bare the combustible emotions of a struggling starter and marked the latest Royals defeat with a hint of controversy.

Ventura would claim innocence, stating a fastball got away. The Orioles did not believe his words.

“The talent is all there, but between the ears, there’s a circuit board that’s off balance. I don’t get it,” Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said.

In the fifth inning of a 9-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Ventura plunked Machado in the side, and two of baseball’s notorious hot heads brawled on the pitcher’s mound. Machado dropped his bat and rushed toward Ventura without hesitation. Ventura removed his cap and dropped his glove, preparing for a fight.

As Machado reached the mound, he swung wildly, appearing to land a glancing blow with his right hand. Ventura responded by wrapping up his legs and taking him to the ground. As the dugouts cleared, and the bullpens emptied, Ventura and Machado laid at the bottom of the brouhaha.

“Coming into today my plan was fastballs inside and breaking balls in the dirt,” Ventura said, speaking through translator Pedro Grifol. “One got away, and that was it.”

The game would not conclude for another four innings. When the merciful ending finally came, the the Royals had allowed four homers and the club had lost for a sixth time in six days. Whatever magic carried the Royals to a six-game winning streak last week has all but vanished. The offense has broken bad. The starting pitching has combusted. The two problems combined to make a volatile potion on Tuesday night.

At the center of the debacle was Ventura, who allowed six runs and seven hits in 4  1/3 innings before cutting and running. His escape hatch was a fastball to the ribs of Machado.

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Three innings earlier, in the bottom of the second, Ventura had pitched inside against Machado, and the two players had exchanged words after Machado flew out to left. In the moments after the game, Royals manager Ned Yost said he could not dole out blame to either party.

“That’s a tough question to answer,” Yost said. “In Manny’s first at-bat, (Ventura) was pitching him in. Obviously, he doesn’t like it. He flew out and was screaming at Ventura.

“I’m thinking, he’s gonna pitch him inside again. It looked to me like it got away from him, but I don’t know who’s at fault there.”

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For Orioles manager Buck Showalter, the answer was obvious.

“I’m not happy about it at all,” he said. “I thought he was trying to hit him the at-bat before.”

In five seasons in the big leagues, the 23-year-old Machado has burnished his reputation as a player with superstar gifts and a short fuse. The same could be said about Ventura, though the star numbers have not been present over the past two seasons. On Tuesday, Ventura went rogue against a player who was sure to do the same in kind.

“I don't regret anything,” Machado said. “It's part of the game, reactions fly. When somebody's throwing 99 at you, it's going to hurt. You can ruin someone's career.”

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The behavior harkened back to the early days of the 2015 season, when Ventura was in the middle of bench-clearing incidents against the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox. The run of fisticuffs earned the Royals the tag of “The Bad Boys of Baseball”, a moniker that did not quite fit. In truth, they were a group of prideful players with a young starting pitcher who could not control his emotions.

On Tuesday, there was more of the same. With the Royals coming off five straight losses, Ventura allowed four runs in the first inning and another in the second. After working scoreless frames in the third and fourth, he recorded one out in the fifth.

As Machado sauntered to the plate, Ventura took his place on the rubber. His first pitch hit Machado squarely in the ribs, igniting a brawl.

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“I was surprised kind of,” Ventura said through Grifol. “Everyone knows what kind of player (Machado) is. Everybody has to defend themselves at that point.”

When the fight was over, boos rained down on Ventura from the stands here at Camden Yards. Veteran right-hander Chris Young was tasked with the role of babysitter, escorting Ventura back to the dugout. Inside the dugout, the Royals’ body language suggested a team exhausted by the losing streak and frustrated by the antics of their pitcher.

“It wasn’t something that a majority of us were really expecting happening,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

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In the aftermath, Yost was asked if the rash of incidents involving Ventura had caused irritation among his teammates.

“Probably,” he said. “There’s a little frustration when things like this happen, yeah.”

Ventura and Machado both earned ejections. In the coming days, both could draw suspensions from the league office. For Ventura, the suspension could come during the worst stretch of his career.

In 12 starts this season, Ventura is now just 4-4 with a 5.32 ERA. The Royals must now ponder what is best for him.

On Tuesday, Ventura opened the game by allowing four straight hits and four runs in the first inning. One inning later, Baltimore’s Ryan Flaherty crushed a solo homer onto Eutaw Street, only the 84th homer to leave the ballpark here at Camden Yards. The performance puzzled Yost and left the Royals winless during the first six games of a 10-game road trip.

“I don’t know, man,” Yost said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at it. He came out of the pen and [Salvador Perez] said, ‘Wow, he’s got it going today,’ and 13 pitches later, we’re down four runs.”

On late Tuesday night, as he stood before his locker, Ventura maintained his innocence. He did not believe he deserved a suspension.

“My plan was to pitch inside,” he said

Across the hallway, in another clubhouse, the Orioles saw the incident in a different light, viewing Ventura as headhunter and instigator, casting the young right-hander as a cheap imitation of Pedro Martinez, the Hall of Famer who once possessed the reputation of a volatile intimidator.

“I don’t get it,” Jones said. “He wants to be Pedro Martinez? Cool. Be Pedro Martinez. Have a damn sub-two like Pedro Martinez. Don’t go out there trying to hurt somebody. That’s what Pedro didn’t do.”

Orioles 9, Royals 1

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Escobar ss

5

0

0

0

0

0

.248

Merrifield 2b

5

0

1

0

0

2

.319

Cain cf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.292

Dyson cf

1

0

1

0

0

0

.264

Hosmer 1b

2

0

1

0

2

1

.321

Butera 1b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.273

Perez c

4

0

0

0

0

2

.267

Cruz c

1

0

0

0

0

0

.000

Morales dh

3

1

3

0

1

0

.203

Orlando rf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.336

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

1

0

0

2

.263

Fuentes lf

3

0

1

1

1

0

.333

Totals

37

1

10

1

4

8

 

Baltimore

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Jones cf

4

2

2

1

0

0

.243

a-Rickard ph-cf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.242

Kim lf

5

1

2

0

0

0

.378

Machado ss

2

1

1

1

0

0

.308

1-Janish pr-ss

1

1

0

0

0

0

.143

Trumbo rf

4

2

2

4

0

0

.299

Reimold rf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.291

Davis 1b

4

1

1

1

0

1

.214

Schoop 2b

4

0

1

1

0

1

.261

Alvarez dh

3

0

0

0

1

2

.211

Pena c

4

0

1

0

0

2

.455

Flaherty 3b

3

1

1

1

1

0

.213

Totals

35

9

11

9

2

6

 

Kansas City

000

100

000

1

10

0

Baltimore

410

031

00x

9

11

1

a-flied out for Jones in the 8th.

1-ran for Machado in the 5th.

E: Davis (4). LOB: Kansas City 13, Baltimore 5. 2B: Morales (8), Fuentes (1), Machado (22), Trumbo (10). HR: Flaherty (1), off Ventura; Trumbo (20), off Wang; Davis (12), off Wang; Jones (9), off Wang. RBIs: Fuentes (5), Jones (31), Machado (37), Trumbo 4 (48), Davis (30), Schoop (32), Flaherty (5). SB: Orlando (3). CS: Merrifield (1).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 7 (Escobar 2, Cain 3, Perez, Cuthbert); Baltimore 1 (Flaherty). RISP: Kansas City 1 for 14; Baltimore 3 for 5. Runners moved up: Escobar, Davis.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Ventura L, 4-4

4.1

7

6

6

0

3

5.32

Wang

1.2

4

3

3

1

0

3.09

Moylan

2

0

0

0

1

3

1.54

Baltimore

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

ERA

Jimenez W, 3-6

5

9

1

1

3

4

6.21

Givens

2

0

0

0

1

4

1.91

Worley

2

1

0

0

0

0

2.48

Jimenez pitched to 1 batter in the 6th.

Inherited runners-scored: Wang 1-1, Givens 1-0. HBP: Ventura (Machado).

Umpires: Home, Manny Gonzalez; First, CB Bucknor; Second, Fieldin Culbreth; Third, Jim Reynolds. Time: 2:44. Att: 28,110.

Hitting a nerve

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was ejected for the third time in his career Tuesday night after hitting Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Date

Opp.

Batter

April 18, 2015

OAK

Brett Lawrie

April 23, 2015

CWS

Adam Eaton

June 7, 2016

BAL

Manny Machado

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