Preview: Tigers (61-70) at Royals (80-51)
Venue: Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium
Date: September 02, 2015 8:10 PM EDT
The hype might not be at levels of last season, but Yordano Ventura could be having the most successful stretch of his young career.
The 24-year-old will try to build on his recent consistency Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Tigers, though he’s still battling control issues.
Ventura (9-7, 4.41 ERA) began August by allowing 11 runs in 12 innings over two starts but escaped without a loss. He’s since gone 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and .167 opponent batting average, 32 strikeouts and 12 walks in 25 innings over his last four.
In Thursday’s 5-3 home win over Baltimore, the right-hander impressed his manager with some in-game adjustments after issuing two walks in the first inning.
“He was rushing it, he was flying open. His pitch count was up,” Ned Yost told MLB’s official website. “But then he made an adjustment, slowed his tempo down, and he was down through the zone and got his pitch count manageable. His curveball was excellent, fastball up to 100 mph, changeup good.”
Ventura is 3-0 with a 4.56 ERA in four starts and a relief appearance against the Tigers. That’s mostly because of a 10.17 run-support average, though he did get his current reboot started by limiting them to two hits with eight strikeouts and six walks in six scoreless innings of a 6-1 home win Aug. 11.
Ian Kinsler (5 for 11) and Victor Martinez (4 for 10 with two home runs) have seen him well, but Nick Castellanos is 1 for 9.
Those guys and the rest of the Detroit lineup have been failing Randy Wolf rather than the other way around. Wolf (0-2, 2.57) hasn’t been given a run of support in 14 innings of his two starts.
The left-hander gave up a run and five hits in seven innings of Thursday’s 2-0 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels, and the 39-year-old will now face a pitcher that celebrated his eighth birthday eight days before his MLB debut.
“I feel like every start I kind of have to, in a way, prove people wrong, that I’m not at the geriatric level quite yet,” Wolf said.
Before the impressive work against the Angels, the last time he’d gone seven innings and allowed fewer than three earned runs was June 13, 2012 – his only career start against the Royals. Wolf gave up a run and six hits in a 4-3, 11-inning loss in Kansas City while with Milwaukee.
The Royals might do more against him with Jonny Gomes. The veteran outfielder, acquired Monday from Atlanta, is 12 for 23 with two home runs off Wolf. His .522 average in their matchups is the highest of any player, active or retired, with more than 18 at-bats against Wolf.
Last-place Detroit (61-70) opened this three-game series with Tuesday’s 6-5 win for its fourth in six meetings with Kansas City (80-51) to even the season series at 7-all. The Royals, however, have a 12-game lead in the AL Central, and health figures to be a greater concern than any late-season performances against the Tigers.
The Royals will be without reliever Kelvin Herrera and outfielder Alex Rios for at least two weeks due to the chickenpox, and there’s a fear that it could further spread.
“Think there is always a concern because these guys were in for three or four days before they showed signs of it,” Yost said. “Since that point, (trainer) Nick Kenney has done a real good job of monitoring.”
They did get Alex Gordon back after missing 48 games with a strained groin, and the left fielder was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI.