Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
If someone didn’t know anything about the Kansas City Royals, and was questioning why Yordano Ventura was named the Opening Day starter, last night answered those questions in resounding fashion. The fire-throwing righty pitched 7 hitless innings against the Mariners, along with collecting 4 strikeouts and surrendering 2 walks.
The Mariners were without Robinson Cano, Austin Jackson, and Logan Morrison, but Ventura still handled the likes of Nelson Cruz, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager with relative ease. I had the pleasure of taking in last night’s game in person, although the view from my seats didn’t allow me to see the full range of movement on his pitches. But that was okay, because seeing the Mariners swings told me just about everything I needed to know.
He gave up a few well-struck balls, but nothing the Royals’ defense couldn’t handle. Ventura threw 88 pitches, generated 9 whiffs, and was still topping 100 MPH in his final inning. Were it the regular season, he would have had no problem trying to get the last 6 outs of the no-hitter.
He had a brief stretch in the top of the 4th when his command left him, but a flyout from Seager on 3-0 and a double play got him out of the inning. Ventura was nothing short of dominant, and even in Spring Training, that’s fun to see.
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There were a few other things I noticed last night that I thought I would share. I realize the game was on television, so I’m probably not offering any ground-breaking insight here, but I mean, you’re already here, so you might as well keep reading.
– Salvador Perez looked great at the plate. He had two hits that were absolutely blistered, and I don’t remember seeing him chase any terrible pitches. A productive Perez could really lengthen the Royals’ lineup this year, so it’s nice to see him hitting line drives instead of popups.
– If I wasn’t watching the game in the bottom of the first, I still would have known Eric Hosmer‘s homer was crushed. The crack of the bat was a dead giveaway. That swing from Hosmer is what the Royals need to see more of in 2015. It was shorter, with fewer moving parts, but without sacrificing power. We’ve seen that swing in bursts, but he’s never been able to find consistency. Hosmer then followed that up with a couple of really bad plate appearances. Baseball.
– Mike Moustakas continues to hit the ball the other way, and even against a good left-handed pitcher in James Paxton. Endy Chavez badly misplayed Moose’s RBI double to left-center, but it was hit fairly well.
– Kendrys Morales is a large man. He’s lost some weight this offseason, and while he doesn’t look like Alex Gordon, you can tell he’s not nearly as puffy as he was last year when he was with the Twins and Mariners.
– Chris Young is really tall.
– It still looks like Omar Infante‘s elbow is giving him trouble. He wasn’t putting much on his throws again, so that’s going to be something to watch when the season starts, since he apparently has said he’s saving some of his strength for when the games matter.
– I really liked what I saw from Gabriel Noriega when he replaced Alcides Escobar at shortstop. Noriega won’t make the big league roster, but he showed off a very strong and accurate arm on a couple of tough plays to his left. I’m looking forward to seeing him in Omaha this season.
– Jason Frasor didn’t have his best stuff, but I was very impressed with how well Brian Flynn looked when he came in to clean up the mess. The big lefty really uses his size to his advantage, because it looks like he’s just dropping the ball directly into the catcher’s mitt. He only threw one slider last night, but it was good enough to get a swinging strikeout.