Ventura wins despite thumb cramp, Royals rout White Sox 10-1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) For one unsettling moment, it appeared opening day had taken a terrible turn for Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals.
Ventura crumpled to the ground in the seventh inning with a cramp in his right thumb, ending a strong outing that helped the AL champion Royals rout the Chicago White Sox 10-1 on Monday.
''I felt the thumb lock up on me,'' Ventura said, with teammate Jeremy Guthrie translating. ''My first thought, it was something really bad, but I'm really happy that it's not. I'm not concerned about it at all. It's just a cramp, though, but it surprised me.''
Alex Rios had a three-run homer among his three hits in his Kansas City debut, and Ventura pitched six-plus solid innings. He went down after throwing a strike to Adam LaRoche and was replaced by Kelvin Herrera.
Ventura will be evaluated later this week, but Royals manager Ned Yost said he does not anticipate the hard-throwing righty missing a start. Just days ago, Ventura agreed to a $23 million, five-year contract.
Rios homered in a five-run seventh with Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon aboard. Gordon stroked a two-run single in the inning.
''I was trying to put a good swing on the ball and when you do that good things happen,'' Rios said.
Jose Abreu homered in the seventh for Chicago.
White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who did not allow a run in 15 innings during a pair of opening-day starts with the Chicago Cubs the past two years, yielded five runs and six hits in six-plus innings. He walked three, hit two batters with pitches and threw a wild pitch.
After an exhilarating postseason run last year that ended with a Game 7 loss to San Francisco in the World Series, the Royals got off to a fast start in 2015.
Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas, their first two hitters, went a combined 4 for 7 with two walks and scored five runs. Moustakas homered the opposite way in the fifth off Samardzija.
''The numbers don't matter,'' Moustakas said. ''We just find a way to win and at the end of the day the numbers will be there.''
Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth for the Royals, his first big league appearance since Sept. 28, 2011.
''We had some opportunities early (and) we couldn't capitalize on any of them,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ''You've got to get better at that. I'm not going to say that it's the whole season, but you want to get off to a good start. We didn't. You just have to come back out on Wednesday and get back after it.''
DROUGHT IS OVER
The Royals won their season opener for the first time in seven years. Their previous opening-day victory was March 31, 2008, at Detroit.
THAT WAS QUICK
White Sox rookie second baseman Micah Johnson singled in the sixth for his first major league hit. Moments later, Ventura picked him off first.
White Sox: LHP Chris Sale, who broke his right foot Feb. 27, struck out seven and allowed a run on three hits in seven innings during a minor league game in Arizona. Sale is on target to come off the disabled list Sunday and start against Minnesota.
Royals: Gordon, who was limited to 10 exhibition games and hit just .200 in 35 at-bats following right wrist surgery in December, might be given periodic rests early in the season.
White Sox: LHP Jose Quintana is 0-6 in 12 career starts against the Royals.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy, who starts Wednesday, has not faced the White Sox since 2011 at Kansas City.