Indians’ Merritt frustrates Royals in first big league start
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Yordano Ventura finished the season on a low note.
The right-hander gave up four runs and six hits in the Kansas City Royals’ 7-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night. It was Ventura’s third loss in his final four decisions and gave him a career-worst 4.45 ERA for the season.
Ventura (11-12) struck out eight and walked three.
"He’s got an overpowering fastball, but he’s not an overpowering pitcher," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He’s got to be able to command his breaking stuff and command his change-up and spot his fastball, and then he’s going to be ultra-successful."
Ventura threw 27 pitches in a four-run third inning when the Indians sent eight men to the plate.
"It kind of got away from us, and that’s something that we talked about to work on for next year," Royals catcher Drew Butera said of third. "If you look at his starts, it’s just one inning. He winds up going seven innings and giving up three or four runs, it’s really just one inning, usually."
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Ryan Merritt retired the final 13 batters he faced in five strong innings and Francisco Lindor hit a three-run homer to lead Cleveland.
Merritt (1-0) gave up a run and three hits in the first, but nothing after that. Merritt, who had made three relief appearances this season and was promoted Sept. 11 from Triple-A Columbus, threw 62 pitches, striking out four and walking none.
After three of the first four Royals singled, Merritt got Paulo Orlando to ground into an inning double play on a cutter, which he said "absolutely" was his biggest pitch of the game.
After that the Royals did not touch him.
Lindor, who snapped an 0-for-29 drought with a double in a four-run third, homered off the left-field foul pole with pinch runner Michael Martinez and Carlos Santana aboard in the seventh.
Santana, who had three hits, tripled in two runs in the fourth and scored on Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly. Jose Ramirez singled with two outs to score Lindor.
"I lost concentration and just started throwing fastballs," Ventura said through an interpreter of the four-run third. "After that I got back to my game and mixed it up."
Eric Hosmer singled in a run in the first, upping his RBI total to a career-high 104. The Royals, who had three singles in the first, did not have another base runner until Hunter Dozier singled with one out in the eighth. He scored on Drew Butera’s triple.
"We had three hits in the first third of an inning," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I’m thinking, `OK, we’re going to get him’ and you look up on the board and we don’t get another hit until the eighth inning."
Brian Flynn, who replaced Ventura in the seventh, allowed three runs and four hits, including Lindor’s homer on a 3-0 pitch, and a walk in two innings. That matched his run total from his previous 18 outings since July 31. He had a 0.45 ERA in that stretch.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (broken little finger on his pitching hand) was put on the 60-day DL to make roster space for Gomes. … RHP Corey Kluber (strained quadriceps) threw in the outfield before the game, but there is no timetable when he will throw off the mound again. … RHP Danny Santana (forearm tightness) could throw a simulated game Monday.
Royals: DH Kendrys Morales had only two at-bats Thursday before leaving with a fever and feeling sick, but returned to the lineup Friday.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer, who will likely start the postseason opener Thursday, will make his final regular season start.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez, who had a 7.77 ERA in five September starts, makes his sixth start of the season against Cleveland.