Royals manager Ned Yost isn’t staying away from Yordano Ventura after his rough Wild Card Game relief appearance, announcing that the 23-year-old right-hander will start Game 2 of the ALDS against the Angels.
Ventura served up a three-run homer to Brandon Moss last night before the Royals came back to beat the A’s. In the regular season he made just one relief appearance, but he was fantastic all year for the Royals with a 3.20 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 183 innings.
Jason Vargas, who spent last season in the Angels’ rotation before signing with the Royals as a free agent, will start Game 1 for Kansas City. Vargas tossed 187 innings with a 3.71 ERA in the regular season, but struggled down the stretch by allowing 18 runs in his final 18 innings.
For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.
Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.
Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.
Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.
The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.