Role reversal: Broxton blows game as Phillies pen thrives

Leave a comment

Jonathan Broxton was untouchable in Los Angeles this season, allowing just 14 hits and no homers in 45 innings. The .095 average against and 73/9 K/BB ratio allowed him to convert 18 of 19 save chances.
Elsewhere, it was a different story. Broxton was still throwing 98 mph, but he allowed 30 hits and 20 walks in 31 innings in road games. He amassed a 5.81 ERA and blew five saves.
The road woes bit him again in a big way Monday, as he walked Matt Stairs, hit Carlos Ruiz and then allowed a game-winning two-run double to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth inning, giving the Phillies a 5-4 win in Game 4 of the NLCS and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
It looked like the Dodgers had a great chance to tie the series up when George Sherrill struck out Ryan Howard with two on in the eighth. Broxton came in then and retired Jayson Werth to end the frame and maintain the team’s one-run lead.
Broxton, though, couldn’t keep it going after a quick groundout from Raul Ibanez to start the ninth. Rest wasn’t an issue, as Broxton hadn’t pitched in three days. He just started missing with his fastball. Stairs worked his walk on only four pitches. Ruiz became just the second batter hit by the right-hander all season. Versus Rollins, he left a fastball right over the heart of the plate. Broxton’s mistakes aren’t punished all that often because of his velocity and movement, but Rollins got all of this one and it was obvious before the ball even landed that Ruiz would score from first.
Overlooked from the game will be the fine work from Philly’s pen, as Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge combined to pitch three scoreless innings. Lidge came on after Rafael Furcal singled with one out in the top of the ninth and struck out Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in succession. It won’t go down as a save or even a hold, but those may have been the biggest outs he’ll get all month.

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)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.