Everyone already knew that Royals rookie Yordano Ventura throws incredibly hard, but his 2014 debut last night was on a whole different level.
Ventura–who won’t be 23 years old until June–tossed six innings of shutout, two-hit ball against the Rays and, according to MLB.com’s PitchFX system, topped out at 102.9 miles per hour with his fastball.
That’s some Aroldis Chapman territory, which is rarefied air for a starter, and PitchFX also says Ventura averaged 99.5 mph on 45 total fastballs last night. Last season, during an impressive three-start debut for the Royals, his fastball averaged 97.5 mph. So maybe he’s throwing even harder now. [Drool.]
Some other amusing notes from Ventura’s first start of the season, via the indispensable Brooks Baseball: PitchFX says his “cutter” averaged 96.4 mph. So that’s what hitters have to deal with when he decides to take a little something off his fastball and add more movement. One of his “cutters” clocked in at 98.4 mph. Imagine trying to hit that. Oh, and his changeup averaged 89.5 mph, which is faster than many full-time starting pitcher’s fastballs.
Yordano Ventura: Must-See TV.
Update (11:57 PM ET): And it’s over. Angel Pagan led off the bottom of the seventh with a line drive double down the left field line off of Stroman, ending the no-hitter. Manager Jim Leyland immediately removed Stroman from the game.
U.S. starter Marcus Stroman has held Puerto Rico hitless through six innings thus far in the World Baseball Classic final. The Blue Jays’ right-hander has held the opposition to just one base runner — a walk — with three strikeouts on 68 pitches.
WBC rules limit a pitcher to throwing a maximum of 95 pitches in the Championship Round, so Stroman has 27 pitches left with which to play. If he hits the limit during the at-bat, he can continue throwing to the completion of that at-bat. Needless to say, though, Stroman won’t be finishing his potential no-no.
The U.S. has given four runs of support to Stroman. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the third inning. Then, in the fifth, Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen both provided RBI singles. Update: The U.S. tacked on three more in the top of the seventh when Brandon Crawford drove in two with a bases-loaded single and Giancarlo Stanton followed up with an RBI single.
We’ll keep you updated as Stroman and any pitchers that follow him attempt to complete the no-hitter. Shairon Martis is the only player to throw a no-hitter in WBC history. However, the game ended after seven innings due to the mercy rule, or as it’s known now, the “early termination” rule.
Ian Kinsler found himself in hot water on Wednesday evening when he criticized the way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play baseball. It is his hope that kids watching the World Baseball Classic decide to emulate the emotionless way players from the U.S. play baseball as opposed to the exciting, cheerful way players from other countries tend to play the game.
Needless to say, Kinsler’s comments didn’t sit well with many people, but he has the most recent laugh. Kinsler broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning of Wednesday night’s WBC final against Puerto Rico, slugging a two-run home run to left-center field at Dodger Stadium off of Seth Lugo.
Kinsler, of course, rounded the bases solemnly which is sure to highlight just how cool and exciting the game of baseball is to international viewers.