By Jenifer Langosch and Jeffrey Flanagan
ST. LOUIS -- Behind eight shutout innings from Jaime Garcia, the Cardinals opened their home portion of the I-70 Series with a 4-0 win over the Royals on Friday night at Busch Stadium.
Garcia, making his fifth start of the season, allowed four hits, none of which left the infield. All five have been quality starts, though this time the Cardinals provided the run support to back him. A pair of two-out, second-inning RBI hits from Jon Jay and Garcia was enough to make the Cardinals the Majors' first team to 40 wins.
"When he's healthy, that's kind of what you expect," manager Mike Matheny said of Garcia. "I think that's a pretty big statement, but he's that good. When he's healthy, it's no fun for the hitters. You're seeing awkward at-bats and awkward swings because his stuff can be that different than everyone else's."
Royals starter Yordano Ventura lasted just three innings, giving up four hits and two runs. He left the game then and the Royals' medical staff determined he had "right hand weakness."
Royals manager Ned Yost could offer little more explanation after the game to the severity of the injury.
"We just don't know," Yost said. "We will wait until tomorrow and do some more tests and evaluate it again. … I'm not going to speculate."
Ventura said through interpreter Christian Colon that his thumb and two outside fingers went numb in that third inning. After the game, Ventura said the trainers told him he likely would get an MRI Saturday or Sunday.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Jay jolts offense: With just his second extra-base hit since coming off the disabled list on May 29, Jay drove in the team's first run. His two-out, second-inning triple scored Randal Grichuk, who had reached on an infield single. Garcia followed with his first RBI hit since 2012. More >
"It's definitely good to see him get going like that," Grichuk said of Jay, who later padded the lead with a sacrifice fly. "He works hard in [batting practice] and in the cages trying to get back on track, and it's good to see him have some success tonight."
The big chance: The Royals had few good swings against Garcia and had just two real scoring threats. With two out in the sixth, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain each reached on infield singles. That brought up Eric Hosmer, representing the potential go-ahead run. But Hosmer waved helplessly at a slider away and in the dirt for a strikeout, ending the threat.
Like most of the Royals, Cain came away impressed by Garcia.
"When you can hit your spots like that," Cain said, "you can dominate in this league."
Added Yost, "Just superb execution. I asked [hitting coach] Dale [Sveum] in the sixth inning, 'What are we doing?' And he said that Garcia is hitting every spot with all four pitches."
Smooth sailing: Garcia faced little resistance from the Royals, though he did have to work around a Kolten Wong error to open the fourth. With Moustakas on second, Garcia sandwiched a pair of groundouts around a popup to leave him stranded at third. The Royals finished the game 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. More >
"I'll let you be the judge. All I can say is that I'm going out and competing. I'm healthy and I'm competing." -- Garcia, when asked if this was his best start of the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Since walking five in his season debut, Garcia has thrown 30 consecutive innings without a free pass.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie gets the ball on Saturday for the middle game of the I-70 Series at 3:10 p.m. CT. Guthrie has faced the Cards twice, once with the Rockies in 2012 and once with the Royals in '13 -- he is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
Cardinals: Left-hander Tyler Lyons was recalled from Triple-A to make Saturday's start in place of Lance Lynn, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain. Lyons posted a 5.54 ERA in three spot starts earlier this year.