Ventura rewarded for faith in his offspeed stuff

Ventura rewarded for faith in his offspeed stuff

HOUSTON -- The make-or-break pitch of the game for Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura came with two outs in the sixth inning and the bases loaded, with the Royals clinging to a 2-1 lead over the Astros on Wednesday night.

Ventura faced Carlos Gomez with the count full. Gomez likely was looking fastball, but Ventura, with a newfound confidence in his secondary pitches, fed him a changeup. Gomez hit a weak groundout to second base, and the Royals escaped the inning with the lead.

Ventura settled for a no-decision, but the Royals went on to win, 4-2.

"It was a good changeup," Ventura said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "The key to all of this is that I feel comfortable with my curveball and changeup. Last year, at times I felt I was strictly a fastball pitcher. But this year I feel like I can throw my offspeed pitches at any time."

Ventura was dominant most of the game. He went six innings, gave up four hits and one run, and struck out six.

"I had real good concentration," Ventura said. "I was executing my pitches and I thought my breaking ball was very good. But the key was execution."

Royals manager Ned Yost, in fact, thought Ventura's curveball was the best he'd seen him throw -- ever.

Ventura agreed.

"I felt it was the best outing of the year, too," Ventura said.

As for getting Gomez, Ventura said he wasn't sure whether that was going to be his last batter. He was at 98 pitches before the 3-2 changeup.

"I wasn't really thinking about that," he said. "It was my last hitter I was facing at the time, and I needed to get him out and I did."

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.