And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Hello all. I’m pinch-hitting for Craig as he works on perfecting his Perry Mason imitation. Go easy on me. I can’t even imitate Rusty Hardin.

Dodgers 9, Braves 1: Chad Billingsley struck out nine in five innings, but Joe Torre sat him down after the pitcher came down with a cramp in his hamstring. Billingsley’s knee appeared to buckle as he followed through on a pitch in the fifth inning, but the right-hander said “I always do it. That’s nothing new.”

Rangers 4, Mariners 2: Ian Snell was solid in Seattle debut (6 innings, 3 hits, two runs), but the Rangers continued to play home run derby (Young, Murphy, Saltalamacchia), taking three of four in series. Mariners fans will probably prefer the headline on this story.

Marlins 3, Cubs 2: Dan Uggla hit a home run in the ninth that might still be circling the Earth. Cody Ross followed with his second of the game — on the very next pitch — to give the Marlins a dramatic win. It was Kevin Gregg’s second blown save in as many days and his fifth in 26 chances this season. Don’t look now, but the Marlins are five game behind the Phillies.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 2: Jays starter Ricky Romero discovered that when you’re facing the A’s, all you have to do is throw your fastball across the plate and you’ll be OK. A’s starter Vin Mazzaro discovered that it’s not the same when facing the Blue Jays. Aaron Hill proves it with two-run home run.

Giants 7, Phillies 3: San Francisco finished off a 6-1 homestand as Freddy Sanchez – one of 10 ex-Pirates enjoying their recent call-ups to the actual majors – comes up with two hits and two RBIs in his Giants debut. Also, Barry Zito pitches like its 2002.

Brewers 6, Padres 1: Trevor Hoffman faced his old team in a surreal setting, closing out a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation. Interestingly, it was not the first time he had faced the Padres (twice in 1993 when with the Marlins). Furthering the Padres’ misery, pitcher Kevin Correia hit into a double play after faking a bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out in the fifth inning.

Astros 2, Cardinals 0: Bud Norris dominated the Cardinals in his first major league start, allowing just two hits in seven sharp innings and giving our own D.J. Short great joy. Norris actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright led off with a single. Tony La Russa admitted after the game that Albert Pujols is “in a funk.”

Angels 13, Twins 4: Who needs Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero? Kendry Morales hit a pair of three-run home runs and drove in a career-high six RBIs in the destruction of the Twins. The Halos have won 13 of 15 and now have the best record (63-40) in the AL. Said Twins outfielder Denard Span: “Thank God they’re getting out of here. The last two days, they were just pretty much stealing our lunch money, kicking our butts.”

Yankees 8, White Sox 5: Melky Cabrera became the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since – you guessed it – Tony Fernandez in 1995. The expected pitcher’s duel between CC Sabathia and Mark Buerhle becomes a slugfest.

Royals 4, Rays 1: James Shields carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but then the Rays do their best Royals imitation, giving away the victory. Tropicana Field now has gone 940 regular season games without witnessing a no-hitter. Or the warm Florida sun.

Red Sox 18, Orioles 10: Putting Victor Martinez at catcher in place of Jason Varitek proves advantageous to the Patriots – err Red Sox, as Boston’s new slugger goes 5-for-6. Red Sox have won four straight and are ½ game behind the Yankees. The Orioles are just happy their not the Nats.

Indians 11, Tigers 1: Carl Pavano pitched eight sharp innings in a rout of the Tigers. “The key was keeping the ball in the park,” he said. I’m guessing a lot of Yankees fans wished he had figured that out a long time ago.

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 2: Chad Tracy robbed Gary Sheffield of a “scud missile” during a key moment in the fifth inning, sparking Jon Garland in a complete game victory. But don’t worry Mets fans, help is on the way. Nelson Figueroa will be activated on Monday to start against Dan Haren. Seems like a fair fight.

Rockies 6, Reds 4, 11 inn.: Dexter Fowler won the game with a two-out RBI triple in the 11th. It was the fourth straight win for the Rockies, who remain tied for the NL wild card lead. In just his second game for Cincinnati since being traded from Toronto on Friday, Scott Rolen was hit in the helmet with a pitch. He didn’t sound badly hurt, saying “It stunned me, but I could still cuss.”

Nationals 5, Pirates 3: Had to save the best for last, of course. The highlight of the game? Had to be when Nats pitcher Sean Burnett was booed upon entering the game. He was the one who had the nerve to call the Pirates the “laughingstock of baseball.”

Burnett said he’d never been booed before, which seems unlikely.

 

 

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.