Pitching effectively hasn’t been much of a problem for Kansas City Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura.
Keeping his emotions in check has been a far bigger issue.
Ventura has left all four of his starts earlier than he or the team hoped and he’ll get another chance to atone for his actions Wednesday night as the Royals seek to sweep the struggling Cleveland Indians.
Ventura (2-1, 4.09 ERA) allowed one run over six innings on opening day against the Chicago White Sox before leaving with a thumb cramp, and was replaced April 12 against the Los Angeles Angels after 5 2/3 innings because of a right calf cramp. He had words with Mike Trout in the sixth inning after the star outfielder scored on Albert Pujols’ double and both dugouts and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown.
Ventura’s only poor outing came the following week versus Oakland, which reached him for five runs in 3 1/3 innings before he was ejected for hitting Brett Lawrie in the left elbow.
More problems followed for the hard-throwing 23-year-old Thursday against the White Sox after he snagged a grounder from Adam Eaton. The two exchanged words as Ventura threw to first to end the seventh inning. Eaton then had to be restrained from Ventura, who was ejected from a second straight start.
Players from both dugouts and bullpens ran onto the field and punches were thrown during a fight that lasted a couple of minutes.
Four Royals were suspended, with Ventura’s seven-game ban the longest. He appealed the suspension and is awaiting a ruling.
"The last three outings, my emotions have spilled over, gotten the better of me," Ventura said with teammate Jeremy Guthrie serving as interpreter. "I’m an emotional pitcher, but I have to control them. I want to do that, moving forward."
Opposing the Indians would seem a good way for Ventura to get back into a regular rhythm. His 1.57 ERA in five meetings is his best against any opponent he’s faced more than twice, and he’s 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two starts in Cleveland.
Michael Brantley, though, is 6 for 16 with a home run in this matchup, while Carlos Santana is 5 for 14 with a pair of homers.
Kansas City (14-6) has rebounded from consecutive losses with wins in the first two games of this series, using a six-run seventh to rally for an 11-5 victory Tuesday. Kendrys Morales had three of the Royals’ 18 hits, capping the big seventh with a three-run homer.
"The offense came right back and put a big six-spot on the board, which was great to see," manager Ned Yost said.
Yost’s team is in position for its first three-game sweep in Cleveland since June 2003.
The AL-worst Indians (6-13) have lost four straight and dropped to 1-6 at home for their worst start since opening 1-7 in 1991.
"We can all say it’s early in the season as much as we want, but it’s time to get going," reliever Scott Atchison said. "We’re not where we want to be. We need to step up. It’s time to stop messing around, and I know we’ll do it."
Danny Salazar (2-0, 2.08) will be tasked with slowing Kansas City. The right-hander followed a very strong season debut with an even better showing Friday in a 13-1 victory at Detroit. He struck out a career-high 11 to give him 21 in 13 innings and allowed one run and six hits over seven.
Salazar went 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA in four starts against the Royals last season, including an 0-2 mark with a 9.00 ERA in two at Progressive Field.
Eric Hosmer is 5 for 9 with three doubles against Salazar.