KANSAS CITY, Mo. — James Shields kept the Indians off balance for six innings, Salvador Perez led a scrappy Kansas City offense and the Royals pounded Cleveland 7-1 on Monday night to open a three-game set with significant playoff implications.
Shields struck out a season-high 10 for the Royals (79-71), who moved within 2½ games of the AL’s second wild-card berth. The Indians (81-69) remained a half-game back of Texas, which lost to Tampa Bay earlier in the night in a matchup of teams leading the wild-card race.
Shields (12-9) allowed only Lonnie Chisenhall’s solo homer before turning the game over to his stingy bullpen. Wade Davis, Luke Hochevar and Tim Collins did the rest in a steady drizzle.
Scott Kazmir (8-9) gave up four runs in 5-plus innings for the Indians. He didn’t get a whole lot of help from his offense, which racked up a season-high 17 strikeouts.
Top pitching prospect Yordano Ventura will make his major league debut for the Kansas City Royals on tonight when he takes Danny Duffy’s place in the rotation against Cleveland.
Duffy has been experiencing some inflammation in his surgically repaired left elbow, and the Royals decided to give Ventura the start in a critical series with playoff implications.
“We’re all excited to see Ventura pitch,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I’ve had my eye on this guy — like we’ve all had — for two or three years, watching him come up in the system.”
With a fastball that touches triple-digits, a hard slider, decent change-up and knee-buckling curveball, Ventura has shot through the Royals’ system. He began the season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and advanced to Triple-A Omaha, where he was 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA.