Royals’ Ventura is aces again, but offense fails him in 2-1 loss

Yordano Ventura gave up just two runs and seven hits through 6 1/3 innings Thursday night against the Orioles.

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Right-hander Yordano Ventura made one mistake, serving up a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz of the Orioles.

Unfortunately, that can be enough to doom the offensively challenged Royals, who fell 2-1, ending a three-game winning streak.

The loss also partially dimmed a special night for Ventura: His mother, Marisor, saw him pitch for the first time in person in the big leagues.

"It was an emotional night to have her here," Ventura said through interpreter Bruce Chen. "I wanted to pitch well for her."

Ventura did, giving up just two runs and seven hits through 6 1/3 innings. He walked just one and fanned nine.

3 UP

— Throwing fire. Ventura struggled with his command a bit early, especially with the fastball, but he found it after giving up the homer to Cruz. After that, Ventura sent down 10 straight Orioles.

"I got very aggressive after the home run," Ventura said. "Everything was working after that."

At one point he struck out six straight hitters, threatening the Royals’ record of eight straight by Blake Stein in 2001.

— You don’t run on Alex. The Orioles foolishly sent J.J. Hardy home from second after a single by Nick Markakis with two out in the seventh. Gordon came up firing and gunned a strike to catcher Sal Perez, who put the tag on Hardy for the easy out. Seriously, do opponents not look at their scouting reports?

— Hat tip to Dale Sveum. We often take our shots when third-base coaches send a runner who gets thrown out. But give some credit to Sveum, who wisely held Eric Hosmer at third after Gordon singled to right with runners on first and second and one out in the fourth. Markakis, the right fielder, threw a strike to home that likely would have gotten Hosmer. (Though the catcher bobbled the throw, he would have let the throw get deeper and likely handled it if Hosmer indeed had been sent.) The move paid off when, with the bases loaded, Danny Valencia hit a long sacrifice fly to left.


3 DOWN

— Just missed. The outcome likely was decided in the fourth when Valencia, with the bases load, sent a deep drive to the warning track in left for a sacrifice fly. But Valencia just missed barreling it and sending it out for a grand slam.

"The bad thing is that about an inning later when the wind died down, that would have been a grand slam," manager Ned Yost said.

— One tiny mistake from Ace. Ventura was solid again, and brilliant at times. His only flaw wasn’t the home run to Cruz, it likely was the walk prior to that to Chris Davis, who otherwise was a strikeout machine Thursday night (3 Ks). Cruz, by the way, showed off just how powerful he can be, slamming a fastball the opposite way over the 387-foot sign in right-center field. Wow.

"It wasn’t even a bad pitch," Yost said. "Cruz is one of the best power hitters in the league. He just powered it out to the one spot today where you could hit a home run with the wind."

— Tough night for Johnny G. The hero of Sunday’s dramatic win didn’t have much good fortune Thursday. Johnny Giavotella ended three innings with runners in scoring position. With two out in the second and Valencia on second, Gio grounded out to the pitcher. With two on and two out in the fourth, Gio popped out to right field. Then with two out and two on in the sixth, Gio again popped out to right field. He also ended the game with a groundout.

"There were chances there, but I just couldn’t come through," Giavotella said. "I have confidence in my ability that I will come through in those situations. (Ventura) pitched a great game and we just didn’t get enough runs for him."

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.