Royal Sacrifice Allows Young Gun Ventura to Shine; Royals 4, Indians 1
Mike B. | On 11, Jun 2014
It’s a battle Indians and Royals fans could see for several years to come, Bauer vs. Ventura.
In a battle of young starting pitchers, full of potential, it was Ventura who won the first matchup between the two prospects. While Bauer pitched a solid effort, it was Ventura who was outstanding Wednesday afternoon. The Royals’ youngster allowed just six hits over seven innings and benefitted from four sacrifice flies as Kansas City beat the Indians 4-1 to sweep the quick, two-game series.
Kansas City took the early lead on Bauer and the Tribe in the bottom of the third inning. Mike Moustakas doubled to right center field and advanced to third on Alcides Escobar’s single to center field. Kansas City tallied their first run of the day when Jarrod Dyson hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Moustakas hustled home.
Norichika Aoki kept the rally going with a single to left, putting runners on first and third base. It looked like Bauer could get out of the jam, allowing just one run when he induced a pop up to shortstop Mike Aviles. However, Aviles fell down as he made the catch—blocking his eyes from the sun—and Escobar tagged up and scored from third base to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead after three innings.
The Royals scored their third run of the game, courtesy of the sacrifice fly, in the fourth inning. Salvador Perez hit a one-out double to center field and advanced to third on a single by Moustakas. Escobar then got in on the sacrificial train, lining to left field, allowing Perez to trot home and Kansas City to extend their lead to 3-0 in the fourth.
Cleveland’s bats finally came alive in the top of the sixth, but they could have scored much more against Ventura. Michael Bourn started the inning with a bunt, single and Lonnie Chisenhall singled to left center field for his second hit of the game. With two on and no one out, the Indians seemed primed for a big inning, however, Michael Brantley lined out to second base and Jason Kipnis flew out to center field. Just as it looked like the Tribe may not score, Carlos Santana singled to right field to bring home a run. David Murphy popped out to shortstop and Cleveland could not get any closer than 3-1 in the inning.
Chisenhall was 2-for-4 on the afternoon, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
The young Bauer was outshined by Ventura on the afternoon. Bauer gave a solid effort, but not the dominance of his young, mound counterpart. Bauer (1-3) pitched five and one-third innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out one on 93 pitches. Marc Rzepczynski finished the sixth inning without concern for Cleveland.
John Axford came on to pitch the seventh inning, and again, the Royals used the sacrifice fly to plate another run. Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer each singled with one out in the inning, putting runners on first and third. Billy Butler flew out to center field and Infante scored without a throw to make it 4-1, Kansas City. It was the Royals’ fourth sacrifice fly of the game and just the second time Axford had allowed a run since leaving the closer’s position.
Ventura exited after seven innings for Kansas City. With the exception of the sixth inning, he kept the Indians in check all afternoon. Ventura (4-5) allowed just one run on six hits and did not walk a Tribesman in his seven stanzas of work. He controlled the Tribe’s offense by limiting all six hits to singles.
Wade Davis came on in relief of Ventura in the eighth and it looked like the Indians would snap his 18-inning streak of not allowing a run. Bourn singled and Chisenhall walked to start the inning. After Brantley singled to center field, the Indians had the bases loaded and no one out. With the tying run on first base and the go-ahead run at the plate, Davis recovered to strike out Kipnis and Santana before getting Murphy to ground out weakly to second base to end the threat.
Josh Outman pitched the bottom of the eighth inning for Cleveland before Greg Holland came on and slammed the door for the Royals, earning his 19th save of the season. With the loss, Cleveland drops to 33-33, while Kansas City improves to 33-32. The Royals now move into second place in the American League Central Division, while the Indians drop to third place.
Cleveland leaves Kansas City and heads to Boston for a four-game series. The Indians swept Boston in three games last week at Progressive Field. Thursday evening Josh Tomlin (4-2, 3.12) will take the mound for the Tribe, while Boston will counter with southpaw, Jon Lester (6-7, 3.52). Game time is slated for 7:10 pm from Fenway Park.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images