The last time Yordano Ventura and the Orioles matched up, not only was the Baltimore lineup handcuffed by the Royals' rookie phenom, but it also lost power-hitting first baseman Chris Davis.
Davis' first shot at Ventura ended prematurely when he strained his left oblique in the game on April 25, but not before he was retired twice, once via a strikeout.
After a breakout campaign highlighted by a league-leading 53 home runs and 138 RBIs last year, Davis has struggled in 2014. His home-run total stands at just two, and his slugging percentage (.363) is a far cry from last year's mark (.634).
Davis made his return last Sunday against the Tigers, after spending more than two weeks on the disabled list when he was injured in the Orioles' 5-0 loss to Kansas City. In that game, Ventura orchestrated eight shutout innings, his best start in the Majors.
"The most important thing is to throw strikes and pound the strike zone, and that's what I'm going to try to do," Ventura said. "If I make good pitches, good things will happen."
Ventura allowed seven hits, two walks and struck out eight in his longest big league outing. The Royals' No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com, has been as advertised. Through seven starts, he owns a 2.34 ERA and an impressive 9.4 strikeout-per-nine ratio.
Wei-Yin Chen gets the call for the Orioles after having his start pushed back a day because of Kansas City's lack of success against left-handed pitching. The Royals' average against left-handers is 14 points lower than vs. right-handers. Additionally, only five of their 18 home runs have come off lefties.
Baltimore also jumped at the opportunity to give Chen an extra day of rest. The lefty's career ERA with five days' rest (3.97) trumps his career ERA with normal rest (4.47).
Orioles: Missing a pair on the coaching staff
Baltimore will be without the services of manager Buck Showalter on Saturday (at Kansas City), and third-base coach Bobby Dickerson on Tuesday (at Pittsburgh).
Both coaches are missing games due to their daughters' graduations. Showalter said bench coach John Russell will serve as acting manager for Saturday's game, with director of player management Brian Graham sliding into Russell's role.
Showalter also said Graham could remain in the dugout on Tuesday with Dickerson's absence.
"I don't know if we are going to split it up between him and [infield coach] Dave Anderson," Showalter said. "Try to be the least disruptive, but we will have an extra guy on the day I'm missing in Kansas City which is Saturday and the day Bobby is missing on Tuesday. I don't know if it will be the same guy or not. Like to get Brian to Pittsburgh so he can spend a little time at home."
Royals: Bullpen dominant of late
When general manager Dayton Moore spoke with a group of reporters on Tuesday, and fielded a number of questions about slumping third baseman Mike Moustakas, he left the conversation wondering why no one wanted to talk about Kansas City's lights-out bullpen.
Perhaps it's time.
With a pair of shutout innings from Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland in a 3-2 win over the Rockies on Wednesday, the Kansas City bullpen pushed its streak of not allowing an earned run to 19 1/3 innings.
The streak, that encompasses eight games, includes only 15 hits and walks allowed, one unearned run and 20 strikeouts. Holland, Herrera, Aaron Crow, Wade Davis, Louis Coleman and Tim Collins have seen action during the streak.
"I think we have one of the best, if not the best, bullpens in the league and it's just fun to be part of that group," Crow said.
• Royals hitters struck out just once in their two-game series with the Rockies. Conversely, Kansas City pitchers recorded 23 K's.
• Billy Butler is 8-for-15 with two home runs, a triple and two doubles against Chen.
• No. 2 Orioles prospect Kevin Gausman made his 2014 debut on Wednesday. The Tigers knocked him around, as Gausman allowed five runs in four innings for the loss.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.