Yordano Ventura named Royals’ Opening Day starter

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Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star on Wednesday evening that 23-year-old right-hander Yordano Ventura will start for the club on Opening Day, April 10 against the White Sox at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

Ventura will be followed in the Royals’ starting rotation by Danny Duffy, Edinson Volquez, Jason Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie — in that order.

Yost said the way Ventura pitched in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series gave the entire team confidence that he is ready to be the leader of a pitching staff that lost James Shields this winter to free agency.

Ventura, one of the hardest throwers in baseball, put up a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings last year.

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

Gio Urshela
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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.