What we're watching – Phi-TB rematch

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– 46-year-old Jamie Moyer and 23-year-old David Price will be the
starts as the Phillies and Rays play in a rematch of last year’s World
Series. Fortunately, the Phillies are back on the road now after losing
six straight at home to the Blue Jays and Orioles. They’re just 3-9 in
interleague play, but they’re an MLB-best 23-9 record in away games
this year. Moyer has seen his ERA come down of late, but he did
struggle last time out, giving up six runs in six innings against
Toronto. He’s 4-6 with a 6.35 ERA. Price is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in five
starts since his callup. The Phillies are hoping to get Ryan Howard
back in the lineup after he missed two starts over the weekend due to
flu-like symptoms.

– David Ortiz and Lance Berkman both enter the night with 999 career
RBI, though Ortiz may not start in the NL park against Nationals lefty
John Lannan. Berkman has just two hits and one RBI in his last six
games.

– Tim Lincecum and Vin Mazzaro will duel for the second time in 12
days when the Giants and A’s play in Oakland. The Giants won the
previous contest 3-0, with Lincecum going the distance, as part of a
three-game sweep at home. Mazzaro has turned in four straight quality
starts since debuting in June 2 and is 2-1 with a 1.75 ERA.

– Zack Greinke has seen his ERA jump from 0.84 to 1.96 while he’s
gone winless in his last four starts. Tonight’s assignment would seem
to be a pretty easy one, as he’ll be facing an Astros team that’s
hitting just .261/.329/.387 against right-handers this year. Also, Russ
Ortiz is the opposing starter. Still, the Royals have been particularly
hapless of late. They’ve not only lost five straight, but they’ve lost
all of those games by at least five runs.

Game of the Night

Chicago Cubs vs. Detroit – The Tigers will try to extend their
winning streak to five games when Carlos Zambrano and Edwin Jackson
face off. Jackson ranks second in the AL in ERA for a first-place team,
yet the Tigers are just 7-7 in his starts and they’ve lost the last
two. Zambrano, likewise, hasn’t been very fortunate when it comes to
wins and losses. He’s 4-2 despite giving up more than three earned runs
just once in 11 starts. Still to be determined is whether Magglio
Ordonez will play tonight. The Tigers have won all four games since
benching the former All-Star.

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.