Last weekend against the Rangers, Yordano Ventura was perfect through three innings before running into trouble and before a baseball ran into him. He was much better this time, going eight innings and giving up just three runs on four hits and just one walk. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Royals offense stayed mostly flaccid and the Rangers picked up a 3-2 victory to snap the Royals win streak at one.
The scoring opened up in the top of the second when Paulo Orlando tapped into some of the power we saw last year and launched a home run deep into the left field seats. Cole Hamels retired Alex Gordon on a sinking liner to center and then struck out the final two hitters of the inning. That would be a trend in this one as Hamels struck out 12 Royals, including Alcides Escobar three times.
In the bottom half of the second inning, the Royals gave the lead right back when Ventura left a fastball out over the plate and Rougned Odor absolutely mauled it to right-center field. At the time, it seemed like there might be some extracurriculars later in the game as Odor stared Ventura down twice while rounding the bases. But never fear, Ventura faced him again in the fourth and struck him out on a nasty pitch and did some staring of his own. The two shared a laugh and all was well.
In the fifth, the Royals got singles from Gordon and Brett Eibner to set the stage for Raul Mondesi to make some noise for the second straight day. He ultimately hit a soft ground ball to the shortstop that scored Gordon to give the Royals their second lead of the game. It might have been more fun to watch him run than for the run to score. Of course, Ventura would give up the lead almost immediately again, giving up a home run to Mitch Moreland that got into the wind blowing out to left.
The Rangers made the decision to stick with Hamels in the eighth even though he entered the inning having thrown 110 pitches. He was able to get Mondesi to chase for his 12th strikeout and retired Escobar on a soft lineup, but a base hit to right field by Cuthbert gave Eric Hosmer a chance to redeem himself after a tough game. He didn’t. Instead, he grounded out to second to continue reeling.
Not to be outdone, Ned Yost sent Ventura out for ht eighth as well with Luke Hochevar on the disabled list and Wade Davis having thrown nearly 240 pitches last night. Truth be told, I was very concerned about him coming back out for the eighth. Occasionally I get it right. I wish I didn’t this time. Mitch Moreland hit his second home run of the game to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead, a lead they would not relinquish in the ninth as Sam Dyson locked down his 21st save, even with a leadoff walk issued.
On the bright side, the Royals got their first complete game of the year, even if it was just eight innings.
Cheslor in Charge
Cheslor Cuthbert announced through social media that Cheslor Jr. was brought into the world, and in his first at bat, he doubled against Hamels. He made outs his next two times up against Hamels, but with the first inning double and single in the eighth, he improved his small sample against the great lefty to 4 for 6 with a walk and two doubles. Since Mike Moustakas went down for the season, Cuthbert has played third base on most days. He’s hit a very good .309/.344/.480. That’s been a really nice surprise for the Royals in a season with some not so nice ones.
Gordo Heating Up?
To say it’s been a disappointing season for Alex Gordon would be quite the understatement. He just hasn’t been able to get anything going at any point this year, and of course, had his season interrupted by a broken wrist. At this point, you really look for any reason for optimism. Well, we’ve found some. He picked up three hits against the Angels yesterday, his first three-hit game of the season, and then followed that up with some good at bats off a lefty. He hit a ball decently to center that took a nice catch by Ian Desmond to keep him off first and then he singled and scored in the fourth inning. Even in his third at bat against Hamels when he struck out, he took some very tough pitches and had a good swing on a long foul ball. No, it’s not ground breaking, but it’s nice to see him with four hits the last two games.
The Royals and Rangers will do it again as Edinson Volquez and A.J. Griffin square off just like they did on Sunday. The Royals are looking to get the better of the matchup after losing 2-1 in the first go-round. Read about it all in the series preview.