Yordano Ventura has burst onto the scene with a fastball that’s topped 100 miles per hour and flashes of dominance that may only be a preview of the rookie’s best days.
Drew Hutchinson has taken a different path to success with the Toronto Blue Jays, and he’ll oppose Ventura while looking to help prevent the host Kansas City Royals from winning for the fourth time in five games Wednesday night.
Ventura (2-1, 1.80 ERA) in one of the main reasons Kansas City (13-12) ranks among the AL’s best with a 3.25 ERA, keeping hitters off balance with an array of pitches. The 22-year-old has struck out 27 through 25 innings after punching out eight through eight innings of a 5-0 win over Baltimore on Friday.
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"I think that’s as good as I’ve seen him," manager Ned Yost said of Ventura, who has made just seven career starts. "Good fastball, his curveball and a great changeup – he just pitched a great game."
The right-hander also became the first Royals rookie to strike out at least six in four consecutive games since Dennis Leonard in 1979. Bruce Chen originally was slated to start this contest, but Yost pushed Ventura up because of Monday’s off day.
"I’ve been throwing a lot of strikes, my offspeed pitches have been good and my throwing on the inside and outside corners has been very good," Ventura said. "That gives me a lot of confidence."
Ventura will get his first look at Toronto (12-14), which has lost five of six after dropping the series opener 10-7 on Tuesday. Hutchinson will look to help get the Blue Jays back on track with another solid outing in his comeback from elbow surgery.
Hutchinson (1-1, 3.46), who sat out all of 2013 while recovering from the injury he suffered as a rookie in June 2012, has no record with a 2.08 ERA over his last three starts after giving up two runs in six innings of Toronto’s 11-4 loss to the Orioles on Thursday. He struck out nine for the second straight outing and has 23 strikeouts while walking three over 17 1-3 innings in that stretch.
"I would like to get into the seventh and the eighth," Hutchinson said. "All I can do is go out there and compete until I’m out of the game."
The right-hander gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-5 win over the Royals in his major league debut April 21, 2012, and he’ll face a Kansas City team that used a six-run eighth inning Tuesday on its way to setting a season best for runs scored.
Salvador Perez went 2 for 4 with a double and a two-run homer for a career high-tying four RBIs.
"We’re confident in our group," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We’ve been getting some timely hits. It’s a great thing about this offense. It could be a different guy every day that steps up and has a big night."
Jose Bautista, who has reached base in all 26 games, and Edwin Encarnacion homered for the Blue Jays, but they gave up at least seven runs for the fifth time in six games.
"We just got hit," manager John Gibbons said. "We let guys take the extra base by missing the cutoff man. You’re not going to win that way."
Former Royal Chris Getz was called up from Triple-A prior to Tuesday’s contest and started at second base for Toronto. Getz, who spent the previous four seasons with Kansas City, went 0 for 3 in his season debut.
Melky Cabrera, who hit a career-high 18 homers while playing for the Royals in 2011, is batting .377 during a 12-game hitting streak.