Last night, Yordano Ventura headed to the mound with the weight of the Royals season on his shoulders. A loss, and the Royals were done, sent home while the San Francisco Giants would celebrate a third World Series title in five years in Kauffman Stadium. With the way the Royals have battled back all season, and overcoming virtually every obstacle in their path, that was not something that anyone outside of San Francisco wanted to see.
Yet, even with the importance of the game, Ventura had other things on his mind. On Sunday, his friend Oscar Taveras, a fellow prospect that he had befriended back in 2011, died in a car accident at the age of 22. A fellow native of the Dominican Repbulic, Ventura and Taveras had become close over the years. Needless to say, the loss of his friend hit Ventura hard.
Even though his focus last night was on the Giants, Taveras was still on his mind. Taking the mound with what had to be a heavy heart, Yordano Ventura had dedicated his performance to the memory of Taveras, taking the mound with RIP O.T. 18 on his cap. With the pressure of the moment, and a heavy heart, it was fair to wonder how Ventura would preform in the biggest start of his young career.
Call to the Pen
Instead, Ventura went out and shut down the Giants. In his seven shutout innings, Ventura allowed only three hits. Even though he walked five, Ventura struck out four and was able to get himself out of the one jam he found himself in the top of the third, as he walked the bases loaded with one out. One pitch to Buster Posey later, Ventura got a double play to end the threat, and shut down the Giants from there.
Taking the memory of Oscar Taveras with him to the mound, and with the Royals season resting on his right arm, Yordano Ventura delivered. As it had been for the entire season, he proved to be immune to the moment, calmly and efficiently carving through the Giants lineup, even doing a little dance after he snagged a grounder in the sixth inning.
Last night, Yordano Ventura was everything the Royals needed him to be. Perhaps just as important, Ventura put together a performance that was truly memorable, and a fitting tribute for the late Oscar Taveras.