Prior to tonight’s game against Pittsburgh, the KC Royals demoted Yordano Ventura, the team’s Opening Day starter, to Triple-A Omaha to figure things out.
It hasn’t been a good season so far for Ventura (4-7 with a 5.19 ERA in just 76.1 innings), who signed a contract extension in April and then was deemed a head case after a series of events in back-to-back starts.
Just 26 pitches into the game, many were clamoring for the promotion of Ventura before he even reached Omaha.
Jason Vargas, who returned from the DL tonight and got the start (and was the reason Ventura was demoted), felt pain in his left elbow…his pitching elbow…in the 2nd inning.
Vargas will have an MRI tomorrow.
In came Joe Blanton, who survived yet another roster cut. Blanton entered the game with runners at the corners and one out. He struck out both batters he faced.
Blanton allowed just two hits over 3.2 scoreless innings of relief. Unless the Royals want to make a crazy move tomorrow, Blanton may have saved his spot for a little longer.
Ryan Madson followed with a perfect sixth before handing the ball over to Kelvin Herrera in the seventh. Herrera pitched a perfect 7th inning, but the eighth was different. With two outs and two men on base, Wade Davis was called on to face perennial MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.
Davis won the battle, striking out McCutchen on a 3-2 pitch.
To that point, the game was still scoreless.
The Royals finally broke through against Pirates ace (and All-Star) Gerrit Cole in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Omar Infante reached on a fielding error and raced to third base on Alex Rios‘ single.
Up came Jarrod Dyson, who singled to center to score both runners. The two-run single chased Cole from the game. Dyson moved to second base on a fielding error, stole third base, and scored an insurance run on an Alcides Escobar single.
Though the Royals won and Greg Holland recorded the save, it was another nail-biter. Holland allowed a leadoff single to Starling Marte and then a double to Jung Ho Kang. Lorenzo Cain threw Marte out at the plate with a big grin on his face for the first out.
After a strikeout, Holland allowed an RBI single. A walk and an infield single loaded the bases for Gregory Polano, who struck out to end the game.
*Marte was robbed in the 2nd inning when his home run was challenged and overturned in replay to a double. The Pirates did not score.