KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The starting pitchers for Game 2 of the World Series are a study in contrasts.
The Royals will send out rookie Yordano Ventura, the hard-throwing right-hander from the Dominican Republic who grew up idolizing Pedro Martinez and now talks to him just about every day. San Francisco will counter with veteran Jake Peavy, the hired gun from Mobile, Alabama, who helped Boston win the World Series last year.
“A lot of energy, I think, on both sides,” said Peavy, pointing out perhaps the one thing they have in common. “We’ll have our work cut out for us, for sure.”
Ventura burst onto the scene last year with his 100 mph fastball, aggressive attitude and cool confidence. He’s only 23, but already has earned rave reviews from the likes of Cleveland manager Terry Francona, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi and everybody on his own team.
“Yordano came in obviously last year guns a-blazing,” said the Royals’ Jeremy Guthrie, who will start Game 3 on Friday night in San Francisco. “His talent was evident from the very first start.”
Ventura’s electric arm is a big reason why Royals manager Ned Yost brought him in as a reliever in the wild-card win over Oakland. Yet the starter, perhaps too amped up, promptly gave up a three-run homer to Brandon Moss and another hit to Josh Reddick before he was yanked.
The Royals rallied to win in 12 innings, though, and Ventura fared far better when he started in the AL Division Series against the Angels, allowing one run over seven innings.
Ventura got a no decision in his ALCS start against Baltimore, a game the Royals also won.
“For me, another thing I focus on is to live day by day,” Ventura said with Guthrie serving as his translator. “Really, what happened in Oakland, I had moved past that.”
Meanwhile, Peavy will be trying to move on from a rather pedestrian start in the NLCS. After pitching two-hit ball into the sixth inning against Washington in the divisional round, he allowed two runs on four hits in just four innings against St. Louis.
Yet the simple fact that he’s pitching in the postseason is a testament to his ability.
The former Cy Young winner helped the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in last year’s World Series, allowing two runs over four innings in his lone start — a game Boston won. With Peavy’s playoff experience in mind, the Giants traded for him in late July, even though he was scuffling along with a 1-9 record and didn’t look anything like the three-time All-Star of old.
Peavy said the change of scenery helped get him back on track, as did a minor mechanical change. The results were striking: He went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA after landing in San Francisco.
“I’ve said all along, when you have guys that believe in you — Bruce Bochy doesn’t know anything else but to believe in me,” Peavy said. “It’s a different feel of belief he has in not just me but all of his players. And I think that’s why he gets out of us what he gets out of us.”
Peavy has struggled against the Royals — with a 4.97 ERA that’s the worst of any team he’s faced more than six times. He also has had problems at spacious Kauffman Stadium, where he is just 1-5 with a 6.42 ERA.
“It just comes down to executing pitches,” he said. “I’m going to do all I can do to execute my pitches, and I feel really confident about my ability to do that.”