Ventura paces Royals with 7 hitless frames

Ventura paces Royals with 7 hitless frames

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals Opening Day starter Yordano Ventura appeared sharp and ready for the season to begin, throwing seven no-hit innings in a 5-1 win over the Mariners on Friday night at Surprise Stadium.

Ventura walked two and struck out four before exiting in favor of Jason Frasor, who gave up the first hit to the Mariners, a one-out RBI single by Tyler Smith in the eighth.

Asked what pitches were especially working, Ventura just smiled and said, "Everything."

Added manager Ned Yost, "It was his night. He had it all going. We wanted to get him up near 90-95 pitches so he can be stretched out to 100 pitches [on Opening Day] and we got that accomplished. And he just had great stuff."

Mariners left-hander James Paxton, making his second Cactus League start, gave up five runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks in 3 ⅔ innings. The 26-year-old figures to be a key member of the rotation, but he got a late start this spring after bruising his left forearm just before the start of camp.

Eric Hosmer supplied a two-run homer for the Royals in the first inning.

"I'm just trying to swing really easy and relaxed," Hosmer said. "It has been working."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Ace was on: Ventura was scheduled to throw 90-95 pitches. He wound up throwing 88 -- 49 for strikes.

Walk hard: Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, trying to convince manager Ned Yost that he can handle the leadoff spot, opened Spring Training almost four weeks ago with a walk. He didn't walk again until Friday night in his first at-bat, a span of 42 ABs. Oh, and he walked again in the fourth inning.

Hosmer's two-run home run

Going yard: Hosmer mauled a 2-0 fastball from Paxton and sent it over the right-field fence for a two-run homer in the first. It was Hosmer's third homer this spring.

Pivotal error: Paxton wasn't sharp in his second-to-last start before the regular season, but only two of his five runs were earned after a costly error on second baseman Tyler Smith in a three-run fourth. Smith, one of two Minor Leaguers starting for Seattle, booted a ground ball by Lorenzo Cain leading off the inning. Paxton then got the next two batters out and thus would have been out of the frame, but instead he wound up giving up back-to-back RBI doubles and then walking two to load the bases before manager Lloyd McClendon called to the 'pen.

T. Smith's RBI single

It took awhile, but …: The Mariners finally broke up the Royals' no-hit bid with one out in the eighth when Smith laced an RBI single to left field off Frasor. Smith helped atone for his earlier error by ending the Royals' shutout as well, driving in pinch-runner Nelson Ward from second after Mike Zunino and Dustin Ackley led off the inning with walks. Smith, a 23-year-old who spent most of last season at Class A Advanced High Desert, has seen considerable fill-in time with the Major League club this spring and is hitting .176 (3-for-17) in seven games.

"I had a long talk with him in the clubhouse before the game because I know he's struggled a little bit defensively," McClendon said of the youngster who has committed four errors in seven games.

"I told him errors happen to guys that are playing aggressively and trying to play the game the right way. Don't worry about it. Keep plugging away and swinging the bat the way you can swing it. And I think he showed a little bit today what he's capable of doing offensively. I thought he swung it good against Ventura as well."

QUOTABLE

"It was just right where he hits the ball hard. I was trying to go low and away and I left it low and in. He's a left-handed power hitter. Low and in fastball, that's what he hits out of the ballpark." -- Paxton on Hosmer's home run.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Entering the game, Ventura was the last Royals pitcher in camp still with an ERA over 10.00 (10.29).

Mariners leadoff hitter Austin Jackson got the night off on Friday, but he's carrying a seven-game hitting streak in Cactus League play and has batted .410 (9-for-22) with two doubles and a triple in that span to hike his average to .375.

WHAT'S NEXT

Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma makes his third Cactus League start on Saturday as the Mariners host a Giants split-squad team in a 1:05 p.m. PT game at Peoria Stadium. Iwakuma didn't allow a run in six innings in his two outings, then threw five innings in a Triple-A game on Monday. Erasmo Ramirez and Jordan Pries, two right-handed starters, are slated to pitch in relief. ROOT Sports and MLB.TV will televise the game live.

The Royals will start left-hander Danny Duffy on Saturday when they travel to Scottsdale to face the Diamondbacks at 3:10 p.m. CT. Watch the game live on MLB.TV or listen on Gameday Audio.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.