Ventura pitches into 7th as Royals beat Blue Jays 7-1
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Yordano Ventura was not at his best, but good enough to end a personal losing drought.
Ventura pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Kendrys Morales hit a grand slam, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 Sunday.
''As far as stuff-wise and command, it obviously wasn't one of his best games, but his mental toughness was great,'' Royals catcher Drew Butera said. ''That's what we need out of him. Somedays you're not going to have your best stuff. He came out and battled. He didn't get too flustered on the mound and stayed within himself.''
Ventura (7-9), who was 0-5 in seven starts since a June 17 victory over the Detroit Tigers, limited the Blue Jays to one run and five singles in 6 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out four.
The Blue Jays had four hits and two walks in the first four innings, but wound up stranding eight men and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
''I was fighting the whole game,'' Ventura said with catching coach Pedro Grifol as his interpreter. ''I didn't feel comfortable with my mechanics early, but the goal was to keep us in the ball game until we could score some runs and we did.''
Morales' third career grand slam and his first since July 30, 2012, while with the Los Angeles Angels came off left-hander Brett Cecil with two out in the eighth to break the game open. Raul Mondesi, Alcides Escobar and Cheslor Cuthbert led off the inning with singles. It appeared Toronto might escape unharmed after Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer struck out, but Morales hit Cecil's first pitch out to straight-away center.
''I went up to the plate with an aggressive mindset and he threw a fastball and I was able to make good hard contact,'' Morales said through a translator. ''It was a high fastball, mask high and I was able to catch it out front.''
Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman (8-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings. He threw 95 pitches before being replaced by Scott Feldman.
Drew Butera and Mondesi delivered run-producing singles in the second. Butera cracked his bat on his hit to bring home Alex Gordon, while Mondesi's bunt single scored Paulo Orlando, who logged his fourth straight multi-hit game.
''They're a dynamic team with their speed,'' Stroman said. ''They don't have to beat you with homers. They're looking to move the ball, move guys. Very fast and they put the ball in play.
Escobar homered - only his second of the season - to lead off the fifth.
Ventura was pulled after walking Darwin Barney and giving up a single to Devon Travis with two out in the seventh. Peter Moylan replaced Ventura and struck out Jose Bautista, but not before a wild pitch allowed Barney to score.
''Today was a little frustrating,'' Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ''It's always tough to play here. They're world champs. They're that for a reason and they held us in check. We really haven't been swinging that good since the beginning of the last homestand. We've been in kind of a rut, so we're due to explode.''
Blue Jays: CF Kevin Pillar jammed his left thumb sliding into second base Saturday and not in the lineup as a precaution.
Blue Jays: RHP R.A. Dickey, who is second in the AL with 12 losses, will start against the Rays in the opener of a six-game homestand. Tampa Bay will start RHP Jake Odorizzi.
Royals: After a day off Monday, Edinson Volquez will start Tuesday against the White Sox. Volquez has a 9.82 ERA in losing his past two starts.