(SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off his first career ejection, Yordano Ventura returns to the mound on Thursday night when the Kansas City Royals open up a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox.
Ventura has yet to finish any of his three starts on his own this season and was tossed on Saturday in a 5-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics. He retired the first nine batters he faced before running into trouble in the fourth inning.
The 23-year-old righty ended up yielding a pair of run-scoring hits before serving up a three-run homer to Josh Reddick with one out. He followed up by hitting Oakland's Brett Lawrie and was immediately ejected.
"He really just kind of lost command," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Ventura. "He was kind of all over the place."
Ventura, who avoided a suspension and was only fined for the hit batter, has struggled to stay on the mound this season. He left his Opening Day start versus the White Sox after six innings due to a right thumb cramp, then a right calf cramp forced him out of an April 12 outing versus the Los Angeles Angels after 5 2/3 innings.
Ventura did get a victory in both games however and held the White Sox to a run on four hits and a walk. That improved him to 2-2 with a 4.67 earned run average in five career meetings.
Fellow Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie also struggled with his command in a recent start, walking six batters in a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday. He also was charged with three runs on six hits over five innings as Kansas City had a three-game win streak snapped.
"I've only had six walks three times to my recollection," said Guthrie, a 12- year veteran. "I wasn't in command tonight."
The White Sox are coming off the other side of a shutout, having blanked the Cleveland Indians 6-0 on Wednesday. Jeff Samardzija escaped several jams and combined with three other pitchers on an eight-hit shutout in the finale of a three-game series.
Samardzija allowed six hits and two walks in six innings of the rubber match and struck out three to earn his first win with the White Sox. Zach Duke, Dan Jennings and Jake Petricka pitched one inning apiece in relief.
Jose Abreu hit a solo home run in the first inning for the second game in a row and finished with three RBI against reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber.
"He always keeps a cool head on the mound and it's usually tough to battle against him," said White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton, who had two hits off Kluber. "It won't be the last time we go up against him and we're happy to have this one."
Chicago should also be happy to have Chris Sale on the mound tonight as the left-hander has allowed three runs and struck out 14 over 12 innings in winning his first two starts.
That includes a 12-3 decision over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. Sale allowed two runs on four hits over six frames.
The 26-year-old is 7-8 with two saves and a 2.68 ERA in 24 games (13 starts) versus the Royals. He went 2-1 against them in three starts last season with a 2.70 ERA.
The Royals swept a three-game set at home versus the White Sox from April 6-9 and have won 14 of the last 17 meetings.