KANSAS CITY Missouri (Reuters) - Yordano Ventura wrote tributes to his late friend Oscar Taveras on his cap, glove and shoes and then made Game Six a night to remember as the Kansas City Royals kept their Cinderella dream going on Tuesday.
Dedicating the game to fellow-Dominican Taveras, one of baseball’s top prospects who died Sunday at age 22 in a car accident back home, Ventura hurled seven innings of three-hit ball in a 10-0 victory that forced a deciding Game Seven.
“I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity, and this game was dedicated to Oscar Taveras, my good friend,” the 23-year-old Ventura said through a translator. “It’s a little emotional for us.
“I’m very proud to be Dominican,” added Ventura, who brought a Dominican flag into the interview room. “I carry my emotions on my sleeve, and I did it for the whole country of the Dominican Republic.”
His manager and teammates were proud of their young pitcher, whose fastball often exceeds a blazing 100 miles per hour (160 kph).
“Awesome,” said Royals manager Ned Yost about his young pitcher. “You’ve got a 23-year-old kid pitching the biggest game that this stadium has seen in 29 years with our backs against the wall, and he goes out there in complete command of his emotions with great stuff and throws seven shutout innings.”
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, who contributed a double and a home run, said: “Tonight was special, he pitched with his heart on his sleeve.
“Going through a lot of stuff emotionally and to go out and pitch the way he did, everyone in this clubhouse is stoked and proud of him. That was just a phenomenal performance.”
Giants catcher Buster Posey, a former National League MVP, tipped his cap to the talents of the young Dominican pitcher. “The guys throws 100 at will and can sink it at 96, so he’s got electric stuff.”
Asked what Taveras might have said about the job he did in Game Six, Ventura said: “If he was still here, Oscar would be very happy for me and very proud. Oscar was a very humble guy and very likeable, and I’m going to miss him a lot.
“I’m grieving, and I want to send my best thoughts to his family.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly