Quick hits from Wednesday night

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I didn’t get a chance to post my usual “And That Happened” recaps this
morning, but here are some quick hits regarding last night’s games:

Andruw Jones went crazy against the Angels last night, hitting three homers.
Which is the same number of homers he hit all last year. And which, for
the season, puts him at .250/.348/.581. That sound you hear is me
banging my head against the wall in the realization that he, and not
Jeff Francoeur, could have very easily been manning right field in
Atlanta this year. Rangers are in first, now, kids. They’re for real,
and my pre-season prediction that had them winning the west still looks
prescient. Sure, it was a wild-ass guess, but that’s what we call
prescience before the fact.

Oliver Perez is back, and better than ever! Oh, wait, He walked seven guys. Dodgers: how do you lose a game to Oliver Perez when he walks seven guys?

Chris Volstad and Wandy Rodriguez
each pitched five-hit shutouts. It is such a bizarre coincidence that
anything so mind boggglingly improbable could have happened purely by
chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and
clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

Jose Contreras apparently spent his rehab time earlier this season working with Ponce de Leon.
And in this crazy, mixed-up world, isn’t it refreshing that you can
still count on some things in life? Thing like the Indians sucking?

Prince Fielder legged out an infield single
that drove in the go-ahead run and which caused the U.S. Geological
Survey and several local fire departments to go on high alert. See,
because he’s a big guy and there was a lot of thigh-friction and . . .
ah, well, never mind.

The Tigers finally figured out how to beat Zack Greinke. Leyland:
“When you are going against a guy like Greinke, you know that you are
going to have to get a great game from your starter. If you give up
three or four runs, he’s going to beat you, so I was very happy with
what French did tonight.” Thank goodness for the Tigers that Greinke
still pitches for the Royals, so three or four runs aren’t all that
distinct a possibility.

You always want to win games, but I bet the Reds are just as happy to finally see an effective Homer Bailey (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6K 0 BB) as they would have been to see a victory.

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.