The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 5, 2014

A Royal beatdown

Fireballing Ventura handcuffs Wahoos

CLEVELAND — The Royals looked much more than a team battling for a playoff spot than the Indians did on Friday night, and the standings bear that out.

Behind the effective pitching of 23-year-old rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura and a three-run homer by Mike Moustakas, the Kansas City Royals cruised to a 7-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series.

At 45-40, the Royals aren’t currently in playoff position, but they’re closer to it than the Tribe (41-44). Kansas City trails first-place Detroit in the AL Central Division by 5 games, with third-place Cleveland 9 games out.

The game was announced as a sellout with attendance 39,020, however from appearances that seemed to be questionable, as a large portion of the upper right-field seats in Progressive Field was empty. And that’s in addition to the 13⁄4 sections that were apparently not sold so that a large American flag could be displayed to honor Independence Day.

The Tribe hitters collected just 6 hits against Ventura (6-7, 3.07 ERA), who reached triple-digits on the radar gun. Ventura lasted 81⁄3 innings, walking two while striking out 4. Aside from the safeties, the Indians did hit some other balls hard against the right-hander, but all were caught.

The only run against Ventura came when Michael Brantley lined a 96-per-hour fastball into the right-field seats to lead off the ninth inning.

Aaron Crow got the final two outs to finish up for the Royals.

“(Ventura’s) stuff is pretty electric,” manager Terry Francona said. “I think in a period of 12 batters, we hit 8 balls hard, and didn’t have much to show for it.

“He’s throwing 98, 99, 100 with a real good changeup.”

Kansas City scored the game’s first run in the third inning when Christian Colon tripled to center for his first major-league hit and Lorenzo Cain knocked him in with a bloop hit to right-center.

The same pair teamed up to hit consecutive one-out doubles to make it 2-0 in the fifth against starter Josh Tomlin (5-6, 4.11) .

Moustakas knocked Tomlin out of the box with a two-out, three-run homer to right in the sixth.

“I thought (Tomlin) looked better than his line score,” Francona said. “Obviously the three-run homer kind of skews it a little bit.

“He kept it manageable. (A) 2-0 (deficit) isn’t where you want it to be, but you give yourself a fighting chance.”

“I felt the same, but the box score is what it is,” Tomlin said. “I’ve just got to do a better job in that situation (with Moustakas at the plate) of limiting the damage.”

Colon’s double inside the first-base bag, his third extra-base hit of the night, came against John Axford and produced a run in the ninth. The Royals made it a two-run rally when Colon (3 runs) came home on third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s error.

The Indians had a chance to score when they put runners at the corners with one out in the fourth. However, Ventura got Jason Kipnis to ground into a double play to get out of it.

Salvador Perez had 3 hits for KC.

Vinnie Pestano and  Carlos Carrasco also pitched for Cleveland.

Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.

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