Ventura grinds through gritty start to earn win

Royals righty battles emotions over five challenging innings vs. Indians

Ventura grinds through gritty start to earn win

CLEVELAND -- Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura's line won't look all that impressive: five innings, eight hits, three runs (two earned), two walks, four strikeouts.

But Royals manager Ned Yost wasn't complaining after the Royals toppled Cleveland, 8-4, on Thursday, earning a split in the series and eventually seeing their magic number to clinch the American League Central reduced to six.

"He was grinding, and he really didn't want us to lose another game," Yost said. "He was competing intensely. To give him some runs early was big. He put every effort he had to get us a win."

Ventura (12-8) did not retire the Indians in order in any of his five innings, and the Royals' defense didn't help him either by committing three errors when he was on the mound and four overall.

"It was definitely a grind," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I thought I had good stuff. It just wasn't consistent. When that happens, I just try to keep them with one less run than we have."

Complicating matters further was perhaps a tight strike zone. Several times Ventura winced when a borderline call didn't go his way.

"I was falling behind, and a couple of pitches didn't go my way and I lost my emotions a little bit," Ventura said. "But Sal [Perez, catcher] and [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland] came out and calmed me down. I was able to get my composure, and the guys kept scoring, and I was happy to get a win."

Perez shows off range, arm

Yost doesn't mind a little competitive fire from Ventura.

"We just tried to keep him calm," Yost said. "He's an emotional guy. Sometimes you just have to be aggressively calm."

Ventura wasn't concerned that he couldn't go deeper into the game.

"The most important thing right now is to keep grinding and keep the game close and wait for the offense to show up," Ventura said. "That's my goal."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.