KANSAS CITY -- On Monday, Royals manager Ned Yost fielded questions about pitcher Yordano Ventura. He was asked about Ventura's decrease in velocity and if there had been any confidence issues or injuries with the right-hander. After each question, Yost lamented nothing was wrong.
Through the first five innings of his performance in Tuesday's 8-4 victory over the Red Sox, Ventura's performance echoed Yost's words. He diced his way through one of Major League Baseball's best offenses, as the Royals took an early 5-1 lead.
"I thought he was fantastic," Yost said. "That's as good as I've seen him throw all year long."
While Ventura was in command for much of the night, he was unable to remain unscathed. Facing Travis Shaw in the sixth, Ventura made his only real mistake. He left one pitch out over the middle of the plate; Shaw smoked it over the right-field wall for a three-run homer.
"I was trying to come inside and open up the plate a little bit," Ventura said through translator Pedro Grifol. "The ball just came back over the plate."
But that pitch wasn't what defined Ventura's night, as he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Instead, it was how he consistently hit 97, 98 and 99 mph after his velocity had lacked earlier in the year.
In the first inning, Ventura set the tone for his performance. After getting behind in the count, 3-1, against Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Ventura struck him out with back-to-back four-seamers that lit up the radar. Five of the six pitches in that at-bat were recorded at 98 or 99 mph.
"I just thought he threw the ball really, really well," Yost said. "There's no soft spots in that lineup. You've got to really utilize all your pitches to be effective."