And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

Leave a comment

Giants 9, Rockies 5: What a difference a week makes. Heck, not
even a week. Six days after the Rockies beat the Giants on a grand
slam, the Giants do it to the Rockies, courtesy of Edgar Renteria.
Given the Dodgers’ relatively uninteresting play lately, I think I’m
going to squint my eyes until the end of the season and pretend that
this is a bonafide pennant race as opposed to a wild card race.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Papa-oom-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow-mow,
papa-oom-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Not that we
should be surprised. Byrd has always done well on 340 days rest.

Royals 3, Mariners 0: More dominance from Zack Greinke (CG, SHO
1 H). We can only hope that the writers are smart enough to realize
come awards voting time that Greinke’s win total is a function of his
team. Given the extremes involved here, I think they will. If he had
won 15-16 wins for a middling team like the Twins or the Brewers,
someone would be tempted to say that Greinke wasn’t a “winner.” That
many wins with a profoundly terrible Royals team will be viewed as a
positive rather than a negative. In other words, he’ll get the Steve
Carlton-in-72 vote.

Angels 9, Athletics 1: After the game, John Lackey talked about
how this Angels team compares to the 2002 team which won the World
Series and on which he made his debut: “Several guys on that ’02 team
will tell you we might not have been the best team, but we were hot . .
. That ’02 team was more of an offense-based team, for sure. We didn’t
pitch that well.” That’s so right. Except for the fact that the 2002
Angels were tied for the best ERA and allowed the fewest runs per game
in the American League.

Brewers 4, Pirates 1: Jeff Suppan won on his bobblehead day. In other news, there’s a Jeff Suppan bobblehead day.

Cardinals 2, Nationals 1: Adam Wainwright won on his bobblehead
day. This is somewhat more defensible. Though to be honest, I’d rather
have the Suppan, just for the sake of randomness.

Tigers 4, Rays 3: This is the kind of game the Rays were winning
a year ago. There’s not some magical explanation to it. The pendulum
just swings, ya know?

Mets 4, Cubs 1: Nelson Figueroa (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 10K, RBI) was
a one man team. Really, it was just him, playing all nine positions
like Bugs Bunny vs. the Gashouse Gorillas because the rest of the Mets
are on the DL.

Twins 5, Rangers 3: The Twins scored three runs in the eighth
via a variety of unconventional means, after which Ron Gardenhire said
“We kind of knick-knacked them a little bit.” I think that means that
instead of being pummeled, the Rangers were Hummeld.

Yankees 8, White Sox 3: The Yankees keep winning, and because
they’re doing so well, they continue to mess with Joba Chamberlain,
yanking him after 35 pitches despite there being nothing wrong with
him. At the risk of sounding like one of those cranky old pitchers from
the 60s and 70s, I can’t help but think that Chamberlain is going to
turn out like that kid you knew whose parents would never let leave the
house growing up and then got alcohol poisoning the same week he went
away to college because he had no perspective or life experience. Sure,
you don’t want to let him kill himself now, but there are worse things
in the world than letting the boy pitch and get knocked around a bit.

Orioles 5, Indians 2: Brian Matusz has the best start of his
very, very young career, and spends a lot of time in the game story
talking about how he overcame his initial struggles with adjustments
and video and all of that. The fact that he was facing the Indians
didn’t hurt either.

Marlins 6, Padres 4: “It was a tough weekend for us and today
was nice to salvage the series,” Cody Ross said after the game. The
Padres took two of three. If they had lost the first one and won the
second two, no one on the Marlins would be talking about how the win on
Friday “salvaged the series.” Likewise, if they had won Saturday’s game
but lost on the bookends, no one would feel too good about things. I
use that phrase all the time, but games are games are games.

Dodgers 3, Reds 2: Dodgers pitchers combined to strike out 20
Reds. Nine of those Ks came in the 8th-12th innings, dooming
Cincinnati’s chances to get anything going. Clayton Kershaw still
hasn’t won a game since mid-July, despite the fact that he has a
sub-3.00 ERA since then.

Diamondbacks 4, Astros 3: Arizona won the game, but closer Chad
Qualls dislocated his kneecap on the last play of the game and will
probably be done for the year. I’m one of the more squeamish people I
know. Seriously, my daughter lost her first tooth a couple of weeks ago
and was out of commission for hours. But nothing makes me cringe more
than thinking about kneecap injuries. Really, it’s taken me ten minutes
to just write this individual recap out because I’ve been alternating
between mild nausea and frantic rubbing of my own kneecaps in an effort
to somehow make the horror of that kind of injury erase itself from my
thoughts.

Phillies 3, Braves 2: Games like this don’t make me feel too hot
either. First Chipper throws away the bunt in the seventh, and then
Garret Anderson just butchers the Carlos Ruiz “double” that put the
Phillies ahead for good. Continued failure to support Jurrjens. Just —
further failure. At times like these I have to remember that, for most
of the year anyway, I’ve been on the “2010 is the Braves’ year” train,
believing that the team brass was really thinking that too, even if
they could never admit it. I still think that’s right, but that little
hot streak earlier this month is the kind of thing that makes you
forget.

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
18 Comments

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)
Getty Images
1 Comment

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.