Loney’s ninth-inning single ends Rays-Royals pitchers’ duel
James Loney delivered the clutch hit for Tampa Bay after Chris Archer kept Kansas City from getting one.
Loney hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Rays over the Royals 1-0 on Tuesday night following an impressive pitchers’ duel between top young arms.
Archer wriggled out of two bases-loaded jams and went seven innings. Royals rookie Yordano Ventura dazzled in his season debut, holding Tampa Bay to two hits in six innings.
”I saw some really good pitching on the other side,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. ”Archer was on top of his game. This guy had a big league two-seamer, 92-95 mph, throwing strikes with it, real efficient with his two-seamer and his slider. He had some nasty stuff working.”
Loney’s grounder to right scored Wil Myers, who snapped an 0-for-15 slump when he reached on an infield single to start the ninth. Myers advanced on a two-out wild pitch by Greg Holland (0-1).
”Loney is a very calm guy,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ”He does not get excited and I appreciate that about him.”
Loney’s grounder got past a diving Danny Valencia at second base.
”I wanted to hit it hard,” Loney said. ”You always want to hit it hard and hopefully not at somebody.”
Holland said he would have liked to have that last pitch to Loney back.
”With first base open and essentially the winning run on second, I’ve got to get that ball down a little more,” Holland said. ”I’ve got to be smarter than that. In that mindset, I didn’t execute the pitch and it cost us the game.”
Joel Peralta (1-1) struck out Valencia with the bases loaded, and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his second save.
Ventura walked none and struck out six, including Myers three times.
”Ventura was really throwing good fastballs, triple digits at times,” Yost said. ”He threw some good breaking balls, but really had a good changeup working to keep them off balance. He matched up against a good pitcher and came out with nothing to show for it.”
Ventura’s initial scheduled start in Detroit was rained out, so he was making his first appearance since March 29 in spring training.
”It’s a lot of time between pitching,” Ventura said. ”It’s my job. No matter how many days off, you have to do your job. I was just glad I was able to do my job today. I’m used to pitching every five days. That’s what I want. It was a little tough.”
Archer pitched out of bases-loaded, one-out jams in the third and sixth. He induced Eric Hosmer to ground into a double play to end the third. In the sixth, Archer retired Alex Gordon on an infield popup and Valencia on a grounder to leave the bases full.
”I had confidence,” Archer said. ”I didn’t at any point think I was going to fail. The way we were playing `D’ I felt like we were going to get it done.”
The Royals loaded the bases again in the eighth against Jake McGee and Peralta, but Valencia looked at three straight strikes from Peralta to end the inning.
Mike Moustakas, hitless in his first 21 at-bats this season, opened the Royals ninth with a single to center but went no further.
Tampa Bay missed an opportunity in the eighth when Royals reliever Wade Davis walked Matt Joyce and plunked pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe with a pitch. Davis recovered to strike out Yunel Escobar and David DeJesus.