And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Phillies 2, Mets 0: Blanton beats Santana, yadda, yadda, yadda. I want to use this entry to make my first observation of the All-Star season. Fact: Charlie Manuel manages the NL team this year. Fact:
he has an All-Star roster with too many first basemen and nary a
legitimate centerfielder to be found, among other issues that may very
well prevent the NL from winning. Fact: the league which loses the All-Star game costs its World Series representative home field advantage. Fact: the Phillies stand a decent enough chance to go back to the World Series this year. Fact: the Phillies have been a much better road team than home team this year. Theory:
Charlie Manuel is deliberately tanking the All-Star game in the hopes
that the Phillies lose home field “advantage.” Clever, Charlie. Very
clever.

Marlins 5, Pirates 0: Ricky Nolasco continues his post-call-up
tear, this time shutting out and striking out 12 Pirates and giving up
only three hits over eight innings. Hanley Ramirez was scratched from
the lineup because his hip is sore. When asked if he’d play in the
upcoming series in San Francisco, he said “I’ll see how it feels after
a 7-hour plane ride.” That’s funny. I checked Expedia, and there are no
direct commercial flights between Miami and San Francisco that
take more than six hours, and many take a little less. A chartered team
plane shouldn’t do any worse. If Ramirez is right, though, I can only
assume that Jeff Loria is so cheap that he has his team flying
Southwest or something. If you’re at the Oklahoma City airport later
today and see a guy that looks kinda like Dan Uggla getting a TCBY
while waiting for his connection, it probably is Dan Uggla.

Athletics 5, Indians 2: OK, we’ve got a situation here. Last
week I said I’d go with “Major League” quotes until either (a) Eric
Wedge was fired; or (b) the Indians won three in a row. In reality,
when I said that I assumed that Wedge was a dead man walking and that
the bit would end soon. Then, prior to yesterday’s game, Shapiro goes
and announces that Wedge will keep his job for the rest of the season.
So here’s the problem: there’s no way in hell this team is gonna win
three games in a row any time soon. Just look at yesterday: they had
two in the bag, their ace on the mound, and Gio-freakin’-7.27
ERA-Gonzales facing them. At home. What happens? Of course they lose.
So what do I do? I mean, I beat some bits into the ground, but I had no
intention of running “Major League” quotes every day. If I did, I’d
start to run out of good ones by, say, September. I’m going to give
some thought to how long I stick with this, but I’m leaning towards
giving it up and simply trying to find new ways to describe how
depressing this team is. I’ll leave that decision for tomorrow or the
next day. In the meantime: “Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I
got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.”

Cubs 8, Brewers 2: The AP game story quotes Ryan Braun talking
about how the Milwaukee pitchers aren’t getting the job done. That’s
interesting enough, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quotes him getting into the GM’s business as well.
He then spent the whole bus ride back to Milwaukee complaining about
how the driver changed lanes too much and yelling at Corey Hart for
taking up too much armrest space.

Nationals 5, Braves 3: Atlanta sweeps the first place Phillies
and then drops two of three to the worst team in Major League Baseball.
Anyone who couldn’t have predicted that hasn’t watched much Braves
baseball for the past three or four years.

Cardinals 10, Reds 1: I’ve sorta not been paying that much
attention to the Reds lately, so I had just been assuming that Bronson
Arroyo was continuing his patteren of getting shelled, then pitching
well, then getting shelled, etc. Looking at it now, the “getting
shelled” option has been a lot more prevalent, and it happened again
yesterday (5 IP, 11 H, 8 R). Arroyo now has the worst ERA among regular
NL starters.

Yankees 10, Blue Jays 8: Joba Chamberlain gets his ineffective
butt saved by Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees’ offense. In
Chamberlain’s defense, neither of the homers he gave up would have
reached the seats in old Yankee Stadium. Such a defense only goes so
far, of course, given that Alfredo Aceves pitched against the same Blue
Jays and in front of the same outfield walls yesterday, and he only
gave up one hit in four innings of relief work.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 4: The Mariners would have liked to take
this one, but the fact is that they finished nine road games against
the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox 5-4, and that’s pretty damn
impressive.

Royals 6, White Sox 3: Some interesting thoughts about the whole Rany-Royals dustup here.
I wish someone would have thought to ask Ozzie Guillen about this over
the weekend. Even in the very likely event that he knows none of the
actors and cares not a bit about this drama, the way in which he would
have put it would have been pretty entertaining.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: A bunch of those “The Tigers are in the
driver’s seat” stories popped up last week. Everyone who wrote them
forgot the fact that the Twins just never, ever seem to go away, no
matter how hard you try and make them. They take two of three from the
kitty cats and stand ready to be a total pain in Detroit’s butt for the
next three months.

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 3: Dan Haren pitched six innings and
stood to be the winner after the Dbacks took the lead in the top of the
seventh. I probably would have bet the balance of my 401K that the
Arizona bullpen wasn’t going to hold that lead for him, but I’ll be
damned if they didn’t.

Angels 9, Orioles 6: Baltimore held 4-0 leads on Saturday and Sunday and blew them both. But it’s not like there isn’t hope.

Dodgers 7, Padres 6: Broxton blows a four-run lead in the ninth
(I’m sure it was Manny’s fault somehow), but James Loney hits a solo
homer in the 13th to give the Dodgers the win.

Astros 7, Giants 1: Roy Oswalt is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA over his
last three starts. Randy Johnson bailed early with a strained shoulder.
He probably did it while batting earlier in the game. Some joker
somewhere will use that as an argument for the DH, ignoring that
Johnson has had nearly 700 career plate appearances without incident
before yesterday.

Rangers 5, Rays 2: The Rangers sweep the Rays — allowing only
seven runs in the three game set — and now start a big series against
Anaheim. Tasty.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.