It wasn’t an auspicious playoff beginning for a 23-year-old rookie.
With runners on first and second and nobody out in the 6th inning of the American League Wild Card game, with Kansas City leading Oakland 3-2, Royals manager Ned Yost brought in the Dominican right-handed pitcher, Yordano Ventura, to face Brandon Moss.
Ventura, a hard thrower in his first full major-league season, started 30 games for Kansas City, having only made one previous appearance in relief.
Moss proceeded to crush a 2-0 pitch to the deepest part of center field for a three-run home run that made the score 6-3 Oakland.
Fortunately for Yost and Ventura, the Royals won the game 9-8 in extra innings, the first of eight straight victories that carried them to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
Yost later told reporters that he realized Ventura would be fine shortly after the game.
The young hurler sought him out, Yost told reporters later. “He said, ‘I was really excited to come in that ballgame,’ and he said, ‘I got too amped up.’ But he looked at me and said, ‘That won’t happen again.’ You know, and it hasn’t.”
Ventura is going to need all of his composure Tuesday night as he takes the mound against the Giants and Jake Peavy in Game 6, trying to stave off his team's elimination from the World Series, which the Giants lead 3-2.
"We have a lot of confidence in Ventura. We have confidence that we will win every time he takes the mound," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We know we can do it. We're a confident group. But we can't do anything without winning Game 6. We're excited to get back home, where we feed off the fans and that energy."
Ventura, whose fastball averaged 98 mph this season, didn't get a decision in the second game, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings before Royals manager Ned Yost went to his hard-throwing HDH relief trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland in the 7-2 victory.
"His confidence is just staggering," Yost said. "You walk in that clubhouse, and he looks you square in the eye with that glint that says: 'I'm ready for this.'"
Yost hopes Ventura is energized by the Kauffman Stadium crowd.
"Trust me, if we're in this position, I would much rather be here than there with our fans. I think home-field advantage is huge," he said after the team arrived back home at about 4:30 a.m. "It's going to be a lot funner going into Game 6 here than it would be in San Francisco, that's for sure."
The Giants spent Sunday night at home, chartered with player families on the flight and reached Kansas City about 12½ hours later. With the shift to the AL ballpark, designated hitters return: Billy Butler for the Royals and Michael Morse for the Giants.
San Francisco's Tim Hudson and Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie would be the likely Game 7 starters if the Series is extended to Wednesday. And lurking is Madison Bumgarner, who pitched a four-hit shutout to win Game 5 on Sunday. Bumgarner, 4-0 in Series play with a record-low 0.29 ERA, could come out of the bullpen on two days' rest for what would be his first relief appearance since throwing two scoreless innings in Game 6 of the 2010 NL Championship Series.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.