Slumping Indians lineup faces challenge in Ventura
Jul 25, 2014 at 9:46a ET
Ventura looks to continue his mastery of the Indians and help the Kansas City Royals to a fourth straight win Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Since reeling off 10 consecutive wins last month for a brief stay atop the AL Central, the Royals (51-50) have lost 18 of 30. They have, however, shown signs lately with wins in their last three games, including a 2-1, 14-inning victory in Thursday's opener of this four-game series.
Nori Aoki singled home Lorenzo Cain for the winning run, lifting Kansas City to its seventh win in eight home meetings against Cleveland. Aoki's hit was only the Royals' fifth in 14 innings and made them 1 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
"It was one of the best feelings, and hopefully we have more of those moments the rest of the season," Aoki said.
Cleveland wasted a brilliant start from Corey Kluber, who took a perfect game into the seventh and allowed one unearned run and two hits with 10 strikeouts in nine innings.
"I wish we'd had some runs so we could sit back and really enjoy it, because that was special," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You can use all the adjectives you want. He had dominating stuff."
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Facing Ventura promises to be another challenge for the slumping Indians (51-51), who have lost four of five while batting .198 and totaling 14 runs - eight in one game.
Ventura (7-8, 3.59 ERA) struggled mightily in his first start after the All-Star break, allowing career highs of six runs and nine hits with four walks over 4 1-3 innings in a 6-0 loss at Boston on Sunday. He failed to record a strikeout for the first time in 21 big league starts.
"After the third inning, I don't know what happened, but I couldn't throw pitches for a strike," Ventura told MLB's official website.
Returning home to face Cleveland should help him bounce back. The right-hander has a 2.63 ERA in his last four starts overall in Kansas City and one of those games was a seven-inning, one-run performance June 11 in a 4-1 victory over Cleveland.
He also came up just shy of a shutout in Cleveland on July 4, allowing a leadoff homer to Michael Brantley in the ninth and getting pulled one out later in the 7-1 victory.
Ventura is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three career starts against the Indians.
Brantley, mired in a 1-for-18 slump, is 4 for 10 against Ventura.
Josh Tomlin (5-7, 4.43) seeks his first win in four starts for Cleveland. Since tossing a one-hitter with a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 5-0 win at Seattle on June 28, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in three starts. He lasted 4 1-3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Detroit on Sunday, allowing four runs and six hits.
The first of his three outings this month came opposite Ventura on July 4 and he was tagged for five runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings in the loss.
Tomlin, though, has been sharp in his last two outings at Kauffman Stadium, yielding two runs and 10 hits in 13 1-3 innings.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was held out of the starting lineup for the third time in four games Thursday due to a bruised right hand. He entered in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.