And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 2: A lot of people experience anxiety about
taking a day off work. They check their email a lot, allow themselves
to be preoccupied, and generally feel as though the office can’t get by
without them. This is baloney, of course. The world goes on fine
without you. No one is so damn important that they can’t take a day
off. Well, no one except Brandon Inge. That dude is freakin’ essential,
it seems.

Mets 3, Giants 2: At this point, any game the Mets don’t forfeit
due to a lack of warm bodies has to be considered a victory. This one,
however, was a bona fide win, with Daniel Murphy singling in Jeff
Francoeur to win it in the ninth. After the game, however, all of the
questions were about David Wright. Jerry Manuel: “Nobody wants to ask
me about Murphy’s game-winning hit? You guys are really bad.” Look
Jerry, David Wight is practically the last major league-quality hitter
the Mets had left, so his health is big news. When a couple of
out-machines luck into hits in what will certainly turn out to be a
meaningless game, there’s really nothing that can be said about it
besides some variation of “blind hogs find acorns.” Cut the press boys
some slack.

Cardinals 7, Padres 5: The Cards are as hot as anyone right now,
having won eight of ten and continuing to maintain a five game lead
over the Cubs despite Chicago’s recent spurt. Yadier Molina and Colby
Rasmus were the heroes in the ninth, capping off a come-from-behind win
with an RBI single and a home run, respectively. Actual quote from
Heath Bell after the game: “I was surprised how big it was when I took
my pants off.” Context, my friends, is everything.

Angels 17, Orioles 8: Nothing like a tight extra-innings affair.
The nine runs scored by LAA in the 13th were the most scored in a
single extra inning in 14 years.

Nationals 5, Reds 4: Josh Willingham hit a massive home run,
doubled, had three RBI, and scored the winning run from third on a
heads up play when Drew Sutton lollygagged a throw in from shallow
right in the eighth inning. You know what that makes Sutton, don’t you?

Rays 5, Blue Jays 2: Cast in an unlikely role for which he is usually ill-equipped to act, Gregg “Z-Game” Zaun launched a pinch-hit home run in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie. Approaches the unreal, really.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3: And the Rangers take the series and the
wild card lead. I presume that this will be reported in most quarters
in terms of Boston’s continuing struggles as opposed to the Rangers
staying hot, because it’s impossible to report on anything in which the
Red Sox are involved without casting them in the lead role.

Marlins 10, Rockies 3, Rockies 7, Marlins 3: The class of 1993 splits a doubleheader as they battle for the NL wild card. The Class of 1993 — San Francisco and Atlanta — follow close behind.

Indians 7, Twins 3: Cleveland scored six in the third inning,
with the first three of those runs coming on eight pitches. The Indians
are playing spoiler. Says Grady Sizemore: “Guys are playing loose and
having fun. We had kind of fallen back and now we’ve got nothing to
lose. So now we can go out there and just relax and play, and sometimes
you get your best baseball when you’re playing that way.” That’s swell,
but this happened to the Indians last year too. Perhaps it means that
Eric Wedge inspires nervous, sloppy, and all around chokey play when it
matters, and can only inspire a relaxed vibe when there is absolutely
nothin’ on the line. Guys like that often become ex-managers.

Astros 8, Brewers 5: Geoff Blum drove in four as the Astros
rallied in the eighth inning to come from behind. In other news, the
Astros box score made my mind wander again — my lord, that team fails
to interest me for some reason — and it wandered into the paintings of
Edward Hopper, who just so happens to be my favorite artist. I go back
and forth (and forth) between Early Sunday Morning, Office at Night, and Automat as my favorites, though there are no small number of his paintings
which stun and enthrall me. Strange to me, though, is the fact that a
guy who lived in New York and spent so much time painting modern
American life in the middle of the 20th century never touched on
baseball. At least not that I know of. Maybe it just didn’t speak to
him. Maybe every game he ever saw struck him like Astros games strike
me.


Athletics 3, White Sox 2: Mark Ellis hits the game-winning home run off of Bobby Jenks in the bottom of the ninth. Oh, and I think these throwbacks looked sweet.
Bob Geren even went all Connie Mack before the game, wearing a suit,
tie and hat to exchange the lineup cards before changing into his
uniform. According to the game story, someone gave him hell from the
stands, however, because Connie Mack wore a straw hat. That, my
friends, is some good, informed heckling.

Mariners 10, Yankees 3: Chamberlain, Aceves and Gaudin do their
part to make Sergio Mitre’s seat in the Yankees’ rotation feel less
hot. Derek Jeter passed Luis Aparicio for the most hits ever by a
shortstop. Omar Vizquel is still playing, however, and is only five
hits behind Jeter. If you think that Omar isn’t sitting in his secret
Antarctic lair, watching dozens of video monitors, stroking an exotic
cat, and contemplating some devious sort of attack on Jeter in order to
incapacitate him and claim the record for himself, well, then you just
don’t know the capacity for evil and cunning that resides inside the
mind of Omar Vizquel.

Philles 4, Braves 1: Atlanta blows a chance to make a real race
out of it in the east by dropping two of three. Looks like it’ll be
more important for fans like me to watch the Marlins, Rockies and
Giants’ scores than the Phillies scores. Two homers for Ryan Howard.
J.A. Happ walks six but gets away with it because the Braves squandered
a couple of chances.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: Randy Wolf was 3-4 with a homer and three RBI and struck out ten over 7.2 IP. He’s the Wolf. He solves problems.

Pirates-Cubs: Postponed: It’s really gonna suck for the Pirates
to have to end the season at Cincinnati, jog back up to Chicago to make
this game up, and then head back to Pittsburgh to host Game one of the
division series.

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.