It felt like the Royals were doing their best to hand this game to the White Sox in the early innings. When Chicago decided they didn’t want it, the Royals said, “Fine,” and salted the game away with a late insurance run and their bullpen.
So in his previous start, I wrote his actions were embarrassing. On Sunday, it was the polar opposite. The Ventura we hoped we could see on the regular. The final line:
7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO
The Game Score of 72 is Ventura’s best outing of the season and only the third time in 13 starts he’s topped 55.
One game does not solve a problem and the Royals still have some work to do with Ventura. But maybe, just maybe, this game marks the turnaround in his 2016 season not unlike his return from a one-game minor league exile in 2015 was a turning point. It’s tedious to continue to rely on “wake up calls” to get Ventura to perform at something resembling his peak. If we meet back in this space one year from now, hopefully we won’t be talking about the possibility of a third consecutive turning point.
Fun With Numbers
Yordano Ventura is the second @Royals pitcher ever to record 10 SO on 91 pitchers or fewer, joining Danny Duffy, who did it yesterday.
— Nick Kappel (@NickKappel) June 12, 2016
I love trivia like this. The caveat is, pitch counts are a recent development in the game logs, so we don’t know if that’s for certain, but still…
Maybe proper perspective is Sunday’s Ventura start is only the fifth one (along with Duffy’s) this year to fit that criteria. Going back to 2000, it’s happened 67 times. Most of the names on this list are recognizable as the best to take the mound. Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, David Price, Randy Johnson, Chris Sale. Not that Ventura and Duffy belong in this company, but the point is this isn’t a list you stumble onto by accident. You have to have the right stuff.
Let’s take a moment to look at the play log from the Royals half of the second inning.
Paulo Orlando hit by a pitch.
Cheslor Cuthbert singles.
Christian Colon singles.
Whit Merrifield singles.
Alcides Escobar strikes out.
I mean, that’s amazing. Four batters reach, one strikeout and the inning is over with the Royals scoring just a single run. That’s what happens when you’re caught stealing twice. Throw in an out in the first inning on a sacrifice bunt from Escobar and an out in the third on interference and the Royals gifted the White Sox four outs in the first three frames. Had Ventura not thrown fire, this outcome could’ve been very different. And it would’ve been a very different tone of recap.
I’ll probably be writing a little more on this in the near future, but Escobar is in quite the spiral. Two more strikeouts and no hits in four official at bats lowered his performance to .243/.269/.288. You know what I think about Ned Yost continuing to bat Escobar leadoff. Now that he’s been dropped to second on this road trip, simply copy and paste.
As infuriating as his sacrifice bunt in the first inning was, at least it wasn’t a double play like we saw in the first inning just ahead of the Eric Hosmer home run on Friday. I remain confounded as to why the Royals don’t have signs telling their batters what not to do since they clearly have the freedom to do whatever the hell they want on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s never speak of this road trip again. The Royals return home on Monday to host the Cleveland Indians. Edinson Volquez takes the mound against Carlos Carrasco.