The Baltimore Orioles entered Friday night coming off back-to-back games where they had scored in double digits. They ranked sixth in the majors in runs scored, second in batting average and seventh in slugging percentage.
And they ran into a buzzsaw by the name of Yordano Ventura.
We've been discussing the 22-year-old Ventura for a while here on the blog due to his immense upside. He can hit triple digits on the radar gun with his fourseam fastball while also mixing in a nice changeup and curveball. He has the ability to make the best hitters in the league look silly. It's just a matter of seeing it all come together at the big-league level.
Ventura's already posted two dominant outings this season. In his first start, he worked six scoreless innings against the Rays. But that's only six innings. His second start was a seven-inning beauty where he gave up just one earned run in seven innings against the Astros. But that's the Astros.
This gem came against a powerful offense and Ventura went all the way through the eighth inning, staying strong through a career-high 113 pitches. In fact, he was kind of Justin Verlander-esque in the eighth inning -- hitting 97 (twice), 98 (twice) and 99 (once) on the radar gun despite having thrown into triple-digits in pitches. How about that stamina for a fourth start of the season?
The final line: Eight innings, seven hits (all singles), two walks, eight strikeouts and zero earned runs.
On the season, Ventura is now 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings. He's getting better and he's only going to continue to improve as he learns on the fly and works with outstanding backstop Salvador Perez.
We could say something like "he's gonna be an ace someday," but I think we just witnessed that day. The eight-inning outing in Baltimore was tantamount to Ventura announcing his presence with authority.
Or, to stick with another movie reference, we could just call him Ace Ventura, as his Royals teammates do. He's well on his way to being an actual ace, after all.