Ventura just misses shutout in dominant outing
Moustakas crushes three-run HR; Colon tallies first three career hits
CLEVELAND -- So close. Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura was within three outs of the first shutout of his career -- and the Royals' season.
Then, boom, a home run scuttled that hope, but Ventura and the Royals still dominated the Indians, 7-1, on Friday night with a sellout crowd of 39,020 on hand for other booms as well -- Fourth of July fireworks.
The Royals had their own pyrotechnics on display -- a three-run homer by Mike Moustakas, a triple and two doubles by newcomer Christian Colon, three hits by Salvador Perez and two RBI singles by Lorenzo Cain. They lit up the sky.
The Royals' victory gave them five wins in their last seven games. That has come just after a 1-6 skid which, in turn, followed a 10-game winning streak.
On the pitching side, Ventura stole the show.
Wearing a special red, white and blue cap on the Fourth, Ventura had the Indians shut out until Michael Brantley led off the ninth inning with a home run to right field.
"It was a fastball down on a 3-1 count, and he knew a fastball was coming," Ventura said. "And he hit it well."
When Jason Kipnis hit a one-out single, Ventura gave way to reliever Aaron Crow, who got the final two outs.
"He had the opportunity to [pitch a shutout], but I wasn't going to take him past 120 pitches," manager Ned Yost said. "After the home run, it's like, 'OK, the next guy that gets on, that's it.'"
Ventura finished with 113 pitches, matching his season high. He gave up six hits and two walks with a modest four strikeouts.
"His stuff is pretty electric," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We went through a period where I think out of 12 batters, we hit eight balls hard. Didn't have much to show for it."
Colon, in his second big league game and first start, proved a productive substitute for Royals sore-backed second baseman Omar Infante. Colon scored the Royals' first two runs after hitting a triple and a double, driven home each time by Cain.
The blow that really separated the two teams, though, came from Moustakas. The first two times that he faced Indians starter Josh Tomlin, he struck out. Not the third time.
Perez got his third straight single in the sixth inning followed by Alcides Escobar's two-out single. Tomlin's wild pitch advanced both runners and the count on Moustakas ran full. That's when Moustakas hammered a three-run homer into the right-field seats. It was his ninth blast this season.
"It's so great," Moustakas said. "Any time we can build a lead, especially with Ventura on the mound, and the bullpen that we know we've got, it always feels good. Especially the way 'Ace' was throwing tonight."
Ventura was so efficient, he didn't face more than four batters in any inning.
"I was really concentrating from the first inning on and I was getting ahead of the hitters early in the game," Ventura said. "I felt like I was pitching in and out, taking something off my pitches and sometimes adding to them too. That's how I was able to go deep in the game."
Ventura got a helping hand in the fifth inning from right fielder Raul Ibanez. With a runner on base, Ibanez made a diving, backhanded stab of Yan Gomes' line drive for the second out. In the sixth, Alex Gordon raced into the deep left-center field to catch Michael Brantley's drive.
That helped Ventura keep his pitch count down.
"In the eighth inning, I looked up to see how many pitches he had, and he had like 88, and I was like, 'Wow.' He was unbelievable -- fastball, curveball, changeup. Everything was working for him," Moustakas said.
Ventura boosted his record to 6-7 and chopped his ERA to 3.07.
"He's got such electric stuff, I mean all his pitches are disgusting, you know," Moustakas said. "When he's able to command and control like he did today, it just shows a lot and how much he's grown up as a pitcher."