When Yordano Ventura takes the mound for the Storm Chasers, one thing is certain.
The part of the scoreboard at Werner Park that displays pitch speed is going to look strange at times.
That's because the flame-throwing Dominican tops 100 mph regularly, but the scoreboard can only display two digits — or 00 on a 100-mph pitch.
What isn't certain is whether those pitches will be around the plate, and Ventura struggled with his control at times during his four innings of relief Thursday as Omaha fell 4-2 to Iowa.
Ventura, the No. 3 prospect for the Kansas City Royals, entered Thursday's contest with a 5.49 ERA after four Class AAA appearances. The 21-year-old Dominican, who hit 102 mph his last time out, registered 101 Thursday. He allowed one run on four hits with three strikeouts and five walks.
Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said he liked what he saw from Ventura early on.
“I thought in his first inning, he came out and threw the ball well and had the command of the strike zone,” Jirschele said. “But from that point on, you know, he struggled with his command. I thought he threw some good breaking balls, but overall command just wasn't there.”
Iowa opened the scoring in the first when Donnie Murphy belted a two-run homer off Omaha righty Kelvin Herrera (0-1), who was making a scheduled one-inning stint.
Willy Taveras saved a couple of runs in the fourth inning after three straight walks by Ventura and a runner caught stealing had Cubs on first and second with two outs. Iowa's Logan Watkins lifted a fly ball into the gap that hung up just long enough for Taveras to make a diving grab.
Ventura's wildness prompted several visits by pitching coach Larry Carter. Jirschele said the goal when a young pitcher is struggling is to slow the game down for them.
“A lot of times you just try to give them a break and let him catch his breath a little bit,” Jirschele said. “Those guys get a little excited out there.”
The Chasers were able to use the catch by Taveras as momentum in the bottom of the inning against Iowa starter Guillermo Moscoso (4-5), who allowed two runs on four hits in six innings with two strikeouts and four walks.
Xavier Nady opened the fourth with a four-pitch walk and moved to third on a ground-rule double by Anthony Seratelli. Max Ramirez followed with a long fly ball to left that scored Nady and cut the Cubs' lead to 2-1.
Iowa got that run back in the fifth when an RBI single by Dave Sappelt scored Murphy on a close play at the plate.
The Chasers got within 3-2 when Johnny Giavotella led off the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to left field, his seventh homer of the season.
But Iowa relievers Michael Bowden and Brian Schlitter held Omaha scoreless over the final three innings, allowing just one hit.
» Storm Tracking: Thursday's attendance of 6,126 left the Storm Chasers just 5,403 fans short of one million since Omaha started playing at Werner Park in 2011.
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