And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Giants 5, Nationals 1: 300. My first memory of The Big Unit was watching him on TV as he pitched against the Braves on May 7, 1989.
He was gangley and ineffective that afternoon, going four innings and
giving up six runs and walking six guys on the second worst offense in
the National League. There was nothing about him that made me think the
guy would be in baseball in a year, let alone winning his 300th 20
years later. When he was traded to the Mariners the following month I
thought “they gave up Mark Langston for THAT guy?” Mark Langston was an
All-Star who could strike guys out. Why on Earth would Seattle give
that up for this tall drink of water? Shows you what I know.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson, one of the most unique and impressive
talents to ever play the game.

Yankees 8, Rangers 6: Is everyone cool with Hughes to the pen
and Wang to the rotation? Because I’m not sure I am, and I don’t even
much care about the Yankees. Wang gave up five runs on seven hits in
four and two-thirds. On the bright side he only gave up one home run
and struck out five, so this could just be rust which, according to
conventional wisdom, is particularly hard on sinkerballers. I don’t
know if the CW is true in this regard, but at least Hughes is around in
case Wang simply can’t find it again. Compensating for Wang was Melky
Cabrera, who provided late-game heroics once again, this time in the
form of a two-run homer in the eighth that proved to be the game
winner.

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Reports of Dontrelle Willis’ return to form
were slightly exaggerated. D-Train was cruising along fine until he was
derailed in the third, when he went HBP-walk-K-walk-walk-walk. Leyland
pulled him at that point — getting himself ejected during the pitching
change, which is a nice trick — and then Zach Miner let eveyone Willis
put on score and then some. To top off this craptacular series for
Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hurt his hamstring running the bases and had to
leave the game.

Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Josh Johnson does it all. He hits!
(three-run homer!) He pitches! (7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K). He’ll slice
your onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and make mounds of Julienne fries!

Twins 11, Indians 3: After watching Fausto Carmona performance yesterday, Rob Neyer said
“every time Carmona pitches he just embarrasses himself and the rest of
the organization.” Ouch. True, but ouch. Jason Kubel played a big hand
in the embarrassment, smacking two three-run homers off of Carmona.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: Not that every recent Neyer subject plays to form. As Rob notes, Howie Kendrick has been terrible,
but after the Angels’ bullpen blew the lead in the eighth, Kendrick
dropped a bunt single when he noticed Jose Bautista playing behind the
bag a third, advanced to third on a Chone Figgins single, and then
scored on a grounder to second that may have frozen a lot of guys at
third base. He’s still playing terrible baseball overall, but at least
for one inning he did something right.

Pirates 11, Mets 6: Welcome Andrew McCutchen! The Pirates’ new
centerfielder went 2-4 with a walk, a stolen base, scored three runs
and drove in another. But really everyone hit for Pittsburgh. Ramon
Vazquez went 4 for 4 and Andy LaRoche had a couple of RBIs as well. The
Mets hit too, but Mike Pelfrey had the worst day of his life, and there
really wasn’t any recovering from the nine runs he had given up by the
time he left in the fourth.

Athletics 7, White Sox 0: Young Brett Anderson pitched a gem (7
IP, 6 H, 0 ER) and for once the A’s bats responded. Everyone had a hit
except Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy. Even Aaron “.158/.200/.158”
Cunningham, who hit a homer. The other day Ozzie Guilled said “if we have Beckham here, we’re in trouble.” Well, he’s here, and he debuted with an 0-3.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Overheard during Chris Carpenter’s
2007-2008 surgery and rehab: “Chris Carpenter: pitcher. A man whose arm
is barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic starting
pitcher. Chris Carpenter will be that man. Better than he was before.
Better, stronger, faster.” If you have a better explanation for 4-0
with a 0.71 ERA, I’d really like to hear it.

Rays 3, Royals 2: The Royals have dropped seven games in a row. The Rays are back to .500.

Rockies 10, Astros 3: It was going to happen eventually, so why
not last night: Wandy Rodriguez was shelled (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Garrett
Atkins had a couple of homers for the Rockies, but really everyone got
in on the hit parade.

Giants 4, Nationals 1: Matt Cain gets a rain-shortened win in
the second, afterthoughty and rainy half of the doubleheader. I can
only assume that there were about six people there by the time the rain
started coming down in earnest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 0: Cole Hamels spins the pitching performance of the night (CG, SHO, 5 H, 5K). The Phillies have won seven straight.

Cubs-Braves: Postponed. They’ll have to schedule a doubleheader
to make this one up, most likely. Doubleheaders can be hard on a
pitching staff. Helps to have an extra starter hanging around for those
things you know. Some guy — maybe a wily vet — who can just bear down
and give you some innings to save the rest of your staff. Too bad the
Braves don’t have anyone like that. AAAAARRRGGH!

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.