Rookies Colon, Ventura Lead Royals to 7-1 Win over Indians
When Omar Infante was scratched just before first pitch due to back “soreness”, Royals fans couldn’t have been optimistic that they would get much offensive production from whoever started at second base. Making his first major league start, Christian Colon was ready to prove everybody wrong.
Colon came through with three extra base hits, Yordano Ventura pitched into the ninth inning and the Royals downed the Cleveland Indians 7-1 on Friday night. After holding Minnesota’s offense to just four hits on Wednesday, Kansas City’s pitching held the Indians to a mere six.
With the game scoreless so far, Christian Colon lined a bullet to center field in the third inning. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, and Colon flew around the bases to come up with an impressive triple. The Royals’ 2010 first-round draft pick had finally recorded his much-anticipated first hit, and he wouldn’t have to wait long to score his first big-league run. Lorenzo Cain singled in Colon on the next pitch to break the scoreless tie.
The duo struck similarly in the fifth inning, as this time Colon whistled another liner down the left field line for his first big-league double. Once again, Cain singled home the rookie second baseman, this time with a double of his own. In the sixth, Mike Moustakas broke the game open with a two-out three-run home run to right field, making the score 5-0. All five runs came off of Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who was coming off a one-hit 11-strikeout shutout over Seattle.
The Royals would finish with seven runs, with the last two coming in the ninth inning. Colon produced yet another extra base hit, this one a liner down the right-field line that scored Moustakas. It was the first RBI in the career of Christian Colon, capping a remarkable game. Later in the frame, Colon would score when Lonnie Chisenhall was unable to field Billy Butler’s grounder. The error was the Indians’ 73rd of the season, which is by far the highest mark in baseball.
For the Royals, though, Colon wasn’t the only rookie making headlines. Yordano Ventura pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career, dominating Cleveland all night with masterful blend of 100 mph fastballs and devastating off-speed pitches. Ventura took a shutout into the final frame, but the bid was broken up when Michael Brantley homered to right field. After getting Carlos Santana to ground out to first, Ned Yost pulled Ventura following arguably his best outing of the season. The Royals’ fire-throwing rookie finished with six hits and two walks allowed in a career-best 8 1/3 innings. He struck out four Indians in the process.
Aaron Crow recorded the final two outs for the Royals. The win lifted Kansas City to 45-40, matching the number of wins the club had at the All Star break last year. Tampa Bay would defeat Detroit 6-3, bringing the Royals back to four games out of first place in the division. Third-place Cleveland fell to 41-44.
For the second straight year, Kansas City defeated Cleveland on Independence Day, though this year’s contest produced considerably less drama than 2013’s version. In that game, the Royals overcame deficits of 5-0 and 7-5 behind Lorenzo Cain’s grand slam, a towering two-run bomb by Eric Hosmer, and a three-run double by Salvador Perez in the eighth inning to win 10-7.
Jason Vargas, Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Ventura and Crow have combined to allow one measly run in the team’s last 18 innings.
For the Royals, the club continues to preach that a team built on pitching and defense will achieve success. As they have all season long, Kansas City’s defense made some web gem plays. 42-year-old Raul Ibanez made a nifty sliding catch to yield the Indians’ scoring threat in the fifth inning. Earlier in the game, Ventura was able to induce an inning-ending double play to end what would be Cleveland’s best scoring chance of the night. Just trailing 1-0 at the time, back-to-back singles put runners on the corners for the Indians, but Jason Kipnis grounded into the twin killing that allowed Ventura to escape unharmed.
The series continues tomorrow evening when Jeremy Guthrie (5-6, 3.69 ERA) looks to win his fourth straight start. In six June starts, Guthrie posted an impressive 2.88 ERA while striking out 34 batters in 40.1 innings. Most importantly, Guthrie allowed just four homers in June, the fewest total for him in any month since August 2013. Opposing Guthrie will be rookie T.J. House (0-2, 4.28). House, who will only make his seventh career start, will face Kansas City for the first time in his brief career.