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Yordano Ventura stays in control in season debut

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014, at 11:58 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 12:02 a.m.

The part of Yordano Ventura’s resume Royals fans are familiar with is the triple-digit fastball.

That was on display Tuesday night in the Royals’ 1-0 loss to the Rays, but his best pitch of the night may have been a nasty curveball to Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria.

The curveball in the fourth inning caught Longoria looking, one of Ventura’s six strikeouts over his six innings pitched.

Ventura met with reporters after the game with interpreter Bruce Chen, who said, “He said he felt really good, Salvador (Perez) called a really good game and his defense helped him out a whole lot.”

Ventura allowed just two hits, a single by David DeJesus to open the game and a one-out double by Ben Zobrist in the fourth inning. Ventura retired the final eight batters he faced.

Despite not pitching since late March because his first scheduled start was rained out in Detroit last week, Ventura didn’t show any rust.

“Even though it was a lot of time between pitching, that’s his job, he goes out there and pitches,” Chen interpreted for Ventura. No matter how many days off he gets off, he has to do his job. He was just glad he was able to do a good job.”

Ventura threw 95 pitches, and 62 were for strikes, including one that was measured at 101 mph in his final inning.

The concern about Ventura last season was his walk rate after he had 53 in 134 2/3 innings in the minors last year. But he was in control Tuesday.

“That’s what we like about him,” manager Ned Yost said. “For a young guy, he commands, for the most part, three pitches. He can throw a fastball, a curveball and a change-up for a strike. He will at times have issues with his breaking ball, but there are little mechanical issues that he can make an adjustment and get right back on it. He’s got three great pitches.”

They were on display, and no one saw that more than Rays outfielder Wil Myers, who struck out in all three of his plate appearances against Ventura. That brought much joy to the fans at Kauffman Stadium.

However, Ventura said he felt nothing extra about facing Myers.

“He has to give everything he can to every hitter that’s out there,” Chen interpreted.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com.

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