CHICAGO— Though the Royals’ one-time grip on the American League’s best record is slipping away, they found something else on Monday night at Wrigley Field.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura, who is positioned to start possibly in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, tossed seven dominant innings in the Royals’ 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Cubs. The Royals are one game back of Toronto (and the Blue Jays own the tiebreaker) for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Ventura threw five perfect innings, and wound up throwing seven shutout innings, giving up just two hits while walking one and striking out six.
“That’s as good a game as he’s pitched all season, I think,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was just phenomenal. Good command of all three pitches.”
Even Ventura agreed that might have been his best of 2015.
“I had good rhythm,” he said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. “I felt strong. All three pitches were working.”
The only jam Ventura faced came in the seventh inning when the Cubs had two on and none out. But Ventura fired a fastball inside and Tommy La Stella rolled into a 6-4-3 double play. Then a strikeout ended the threat, and ended Ventura’s night.
As tough as it was to watch a loss, Ventura conceded, “What I have in my control is to go out there and do the best I can. Their pitchers did a good job. They’re Major League pitchers, too. They pitched well.”
Ventura will get one more start on Saturday, likely, and that would seem to position him to start the first game of the ALDS on Oct. 8, though Yost has not revealed his plans.
Ventura is ready for anything that awaits.
“I have felt good all year,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had some bad breaks, but I’ve learned from them.”