And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Reds 4, Cubs 0: Justin Lehr? Really? The same Justin Lehr making his second career start at the age of 32? The same Justin Lehr who hadn’t previously pitched in the majors since 2006, and was really, really bad when he did that? The same Justin Lehr who the Reds signed in 2007, sold to the freakin’ Korean league, signed again with the Reds later in the year, was let go again and allowed to sign with the Phillies, then the Reds traded for AGAIN back in May? The same Justin Lehr who had someone updating his Wikipedia page with news of this shutout against the Cubs (CG SHO, 4 H, 4K, 1BB) mere minutes after the game went final? For Pete’s sake, you gotta love baseball.

Phillies 7, Rockies 0: I don’t think that anyone was truly serious about moving J.A. Happ out of the rotation in lieu of Pedro Martinez, but to the extent there was even a hint of chatter on this point, it needs to stop now (CG SHO 4 H, 10K 2 BB). Well, maybe. Damn, it’s gotta be good to be a Phillies fan right now.

Brewers 4, Dodgers 1: Game story: “The final meeting of the season between the teams was played with a heavier-than-usual presence of security personnel stationed between both clubhouses before and after the game. Usually there is one security guard in front of each door. This time, there were five on the Dodgers’ side and eight on the visitors’ side.” Prince Fielder behaved himself, but he was seen searching for a wheelbarrow and a holocaust cloak between innings, so there was genuine reason for concern.

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: Edwin Jackson gave up a two-run homer to Adam Jones in the ninth on his 117th pitch. Until then, however, it was cream cheese (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 3: Ross Ohlendorf left with a lead, but the pen couldn’t hold it for him. From the game’s scoring summary in the 8th inning: “S Drew singled to center, C Tracy and A Romero scored, S Drew out stretching at second.” Drew probably should have stretched before the game or at the very least kept his foot on the bag while stretching in the 8th.

Indians 8, Twins 1: Minnesota threw five guys out there — Liriano, Dickey, Keppel, Mijares and Guerrier — with names that sound like they belong to partisans in some European civil war or something. In fact, I’m pretty sure those were the names of the five main characters from a Hemingway novella I read back in college. I’m blanking on the title right now and don’t have time to check, but trust me, those are the dudes. Keppel was a German defector — once a mid level Weimar bureaucrat — unhappy with the sinister influence that had come to his homeland and trying to find meaning in the world. Liriano had been close with Franco in their youth, but suffered a falling out over a woman, and now no man truly knows the reason why he fights. Dickey — the narrator — was a laconic American expatriate with a deep secret. Mijares and Guerrier, often mistaken for brothers, but unrelated, had met in France after the Great War and formed a life bond. At the risk of giving away the ending, I’ll say that it was sad to see those two die in each others arms, their chests pierced by the same Fascist bullet, even if we knew it was inevitable from the first chapter which foreshadowed their doom. Why yes, I was drinking a little last night as I wrote this. Why do you ask?

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: Bad night all around for the Sox as first Penny gets beat up (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER) and then Jason Bay leaves the game with a hamstring injury. Sutcliffe made this one as unwatchable as usual. I didn’t click off, however, until the promos for the upcoming games were announced: we’re watching the Sox tonight, we’ll get the Sox on Sunday, and then the Sox on Monday. ESPN: Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is Red.


Yankees 8, Blue Jays 4: It was all chips and gravy for the Jays
until the seventh, but then Swisher homered, Cano doubled, Matsui
knocked him in, Molina walked, then Damon knocked in Matsui and Texeira
knocked in Molina. Now come the Red Sox. They get Smoltz first, so
there’s a good chance that the winning streak gets stretched to four.

Braves 6, Padres 2: Tommy Hanson is from San Berdoo (did the
mullet tip you off?), so this was kind of like homecoming for him.
Kevin Kouzmanoff was far more welcoming, however, as he hit into three
double plays, including one that got Hanson out of a tight spot in the
first. The Braves had 14 hits, every one of them singles, which is not
something you see every day.

Nationals 5, Marlins 4: Wow, four wins in a row for for the Nats. Back to back homers by Zimmerman and Dunn in the first set the tone.

Giants 10, Astros 6: You really aren’t living right if you give
up ten runs on 13 hits to the Giants. Joe Martinez wins his first ever
major league start. Eli Whiteside, filling in for Molina unit #3VH162,
which required some routine maintenance, hit a grand slam.

Mets 9, Cardinals 0: Jonathon Niese tore his hamstring — like
really tore it and needs it repaired with surgery — and is now done
for the year. Man, it’s tough to be a Met this season. His teammates
weren’t fazed, though, and put the hurt on the Cards. Angel Pagan did a
lot of the hurting, going 3-4 with four RBI.

Mariners 11, Royals 6: I still can’t fathom why Posnanski wants
to give up getting paid to watch this team play every night. I mean,
he’ll probably still watch them, but now he’ll do it for free.

Athletics 7, Rangers 5: Adam Kennedy, Scott Hairston, Kurt
Suzuki and Cliff Pennington all went yard for Oakland, with Kennedy’s
two-run blast serving as a difference maker in the sixth. Dallas Bradan
was supposed to start but didn’t because he “had a swollen left ankle,
which developed from a rash caused by a Neoprene guard used to protect
his big toe when pitching.” I hate it when that happens.

White Sox 6, Angels 2: HI MY NAME IS JI

JIM THOME
AND I HIT TWO HOME RUNS IN THIS GAME.

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.