KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals rookie sensation Yordano Ventura didn’t have his best command. And he labored somewhat through five innings, throwing 92 pitches, 57 for strikes.
But Ventura survived by getting big outs when he needed, and authored five more scoreless innings, tying a club record shared with Brian Bannister for most consecutive scoreless innings for a Royals rookie.
And thanks to a two-run rally in the seventh, the Royals snapped a 2-2 tie, and then banked on their bullpen and escaped with a 4-2 win over Toronto at chilly Kauffman Stadium. That was the Royals’ third straight win and fourth in five games.
Ventura left the game with a 2-0 lead but wound up with a no-decision.
"I thought about sending him out for a couple of hitters in the sixth," manager Ned Yost said. "… but he was starting to lose his mechanics. His arm slot was getting lower."
Yost thought Ventura might have gotten too amped up for this game, playing against a Toronto team stacked with players from Ventura’s native Dominican Republic.
Ventura denied that, though.
"My focus was on getting strikes and getting outs," he said through interpreter Jeremy Guthrie.
— Esky continues to shine. Shortstop Alcides Escobar continues to play the best baseball perhaps of his career. Esky came through in the clutch with two on and two out in a 2-2 game in the seventh by whacking a two-run double down the left-field line to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. Esky said he was looking for a fastball. "I got one inside and I got to it," he said. "That was a good situation to get that — two outs, tie game." Credit also goes to Sal Perez, who worked a one-out walk, and then scored from first on the double. "That’s the thing that I was impressed with," Yost said. "Sal scoring all the way from first."
Esky, by the way, also made a one-out leaping grab off a line drive from Jose Bautista in the ninth.
— Hoz heating up? Before Esky’s heroics, Eric Hosmer came through with a sacrifice fly in the first, and then a huge RBI double in the fourth to make it 2-0. Just for fun, Hoz smashed a two-out double in the eighth, culminating a 13-pitch at-bat.
— Royals’ bullpen wobbles but won’t fall down. It wasn’t easy, and there were plenty of jams to work out of, but Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland all got the job done in relief of Ventura. Davis had the most perilous inning of all — he gave up a leadoff single and walked two hitters, eventually loading the bases. But in between, Davis wound up striking out the side. Davis had the bases loaded and two out when he struck out Jose Reyes on three pitches.
"Those were almost unhittable pitches," Yost said. "I thought the bullpen pretty much held the fort. They pitched into trouble and pitched out of trouble."
Holland survived a two-out double in the ninth for his seventh save.
— Danny Duffy suddenly slumping. After several solid outings, Duffy has gone back to back with frighteningly shaky efforts. Duffy entered Wednesday’s game with the Royals ahead 2-0. He immediately hit the first hitter, Melky Cabrera, and then walked Bautista. That was enough for Yost, who then opted for Crow. Crow allowed the inherited runners to score but no more. "I’ve had four pretty good outings and two rough ones," Duffy said. "I lost one game (in Baltimore) but luckily we came back and won this one. I’m just sorry that Yordano didn’t get the win because of me."
— Not a good night for Moose. Mike Moustakas looked somewhat helpless against Jays starter Drew Hutchison as he flied out weakly to left, struck out and then fouled out. The foul out was especially untimely — the Royals had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh and the score tied 2-2. Fortunately, Esky picked him up with a two-run double.
— No Billy Bombs in April. Billy Butler went the entire month of April without a dinger — that’s the first month that has happened for Billy since May 2011. Still, Butler had a good night. He moved Hosmer, who was on second with none out in the fourth, to third base with a good at-bat, grounding out to second. Butler also started the seventh-inning rally with a solid liner to right for a single.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.