And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Velez jersey.jpgGiants 10, Astros 4: Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand combine to go 9 for 11 with four RBI. Nineteen hits in all for San Francisco, who pretty much abused the Astros for the past three days. And they didn’t care how they looked doing it, as infielder Eugenio Velez took the field wearing a jersey that read “San Francicso”

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1: The Bosox got a great start from John Lackey (6
IP, 3 H, 0 ER), but he was nearly matched by Andy Pettitte. Der DifferenceMacher, however, was Chan Ho Park, who pitched three
scoreless innings in relief and was the pitcher of record when Curtis
Granderson hit a homer off John Papelbon in the 10th. No errors. Good
pitching. A game that, had it ended in regulation, would have come in
just under the three hour wire. I call this progress. Oh, and David
Ortiz had an RBI single, so the Boston press corps can go make up a new
drama du jour. May I suggest beating up on Jonathan Papelbon for a few
days or perhaps running a multi-part series about whether it’s time to
start freaking out that Kevin Youkilis went hitless last night.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 4: You know, if Vernon Wells keeps up his
.714/.778/2.000 line all year he may just make that contract
into a winner for the Blue Jays yet.  Wells hit his second and third
home run of the season in this one. Rich Harden was pretty atrocious for the
Rangers, leaving the game after two straight bases loaded walks. Ninety
pitches in less than four innings for The Man Who Would be Millwood.

Marlins 7, Mets 6: The Mets were down 6-1, but battled back in the
seventh and eighth to tie it at six. But they could have been ahead by
then if it wasn’t for a Fernando Tatis brain fart. In the seventh the Mets were rallying and loaded the
bases with two out for David Wright. Tatis was on third. The
first pitch to Wright went wild and Tatis broke for home. Not wild
enough, however, as John Baker recovered, tossed the ball to Veras covering home and tagged Tatis out, ending the
rally and the inning. If anyone is curious to see how that is going over
with Mets fans this morning, I suggest you get on Twitter and search
for “Tatis.”  Guy may want to enroll in the witness protection program
today.

Rays 4, Orioles 3: Matt Garza was pretty stingy, allowing only two runs
over eight innings, striking out nine and giving up only four hits. Evan
Longoria homered and drove in three. Rafael Soriano was shaky again but
got the save. But he wasn’t the only former Braves closer that had
problems last night: word on the street is that Joe Boever got into a
fistfight while dining at Citizen
Kane’s Steakhouse in Kirkwood, Missouri
. Seems each time he asked
the waiter how much the Chicken Xanadu would set him back, the guy
responded by saying “Cost?! NO MAN CAN SAY!”  Frankly, I’m taking
Boever’s side on this one, because that kind of garbage gets old really
quick.

Braves 3, Cubs 2: With the exception of an RBI double Jason Heyward absolutely ripped down the right field line in the second, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall handcuffed the Braves for seven innings, striking out 11 and keeping just about anyone else from hitting the ball with anything even resembling authority. That changed when John Grabow came in for the eighth and gave up a double to Martin Prado followed by a bomb on a 3-1 pitch to Chipper Jones. Billy Wagner came in for the ninth throwing pure gas, some totally unfair sliders and striking out the side for his first save since June of 2008. This was so totally a game the 2006-2009 Braves would have lost.

Cardinals 6, Reds 3: Johnny Cueto didn’t let Albert Pujols hurt him — gave up a walk, struck him out and induced a fly ball — but the bullpen wasn’t as lucky. Pujols hit an RBI single off something called Logan Ondrusek in the seventh, followed by an RBI double from Matt Holliday and an RBI single from David Freese, breaking a 2-2 tie and giving Adam Wainwright the victory. The Reds, obviously still stinging over the fact that they don’t get the season’s first game anymore, billed this one as “Opening Night” and ran multiple promotions for it. Not sure what’s sadder: that they felt the need to do this or that it actually worked, drawing a pretty big crowd for a Wednesday night in the Queen City.

Phillies 8, Nationals 4: That’s the thing about Jason Marquis: he takes the ball every fifth day, dadgummit, and that’s what pros do. Sure, he gets lit up most of those days, but you can’t question the heart of a competitor! Six runs on eight hits with three walks thrown in for flavor in the space of four innings last night, with the big blow being Ryan Howard’s two-run homer in the fifth that should be due to clear Mongolian air space within the hour.  The Nats’ rightfielder Mike Morse left the game with a leg injury in this one. Time to flash the Elijah Dukes signal, Commissioner Rizzo?

Pirates 4, Dodgers 3: Russ and Ramon Ortiz both pitched in this one for L.A. which is rather disorienting if you merely read the box scores like I do. Until I read more closely I had figured the Dodgers had cloned Russ for some reason. Ramon gets the loss here, though, giving up an RBI single to Ronny Cedeno in the bottom of the 10th. Five innings of shutout relief for the Buccos bullpen, by the way.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: Walking six guys in as many innings is no way to go through life, Fausto Carmona, but I suppose if you only give up one hit we’ll let you off the hook. “Effectively wild?” “Lucky as hell?”  Doesn’t matter. The Tribe won.

Brewers 5, Rockies 4: With the exception of some late pinch hitting, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta all got the day off. On day three of the season. And the Rockies lost by one. Someone tell me if we’re still supposed to pretend that Jim Tracy is genius or if that was limited to last season. For Milwaukee, Jim Edmonds started again and went 2 for 4 with a double and a couple of runs and the bullpen — which is an obvious strength for the Brewers — held Colorado scoreless for five innings.

Royals 3, Tigers 2: I’m sure most Royals fans figured it was over when Kyle Farnsworth gave up a run in the top of the 11th to make it 2-1 Detroit, but Kansas City roared back in the bottom of the inning, scoring two off Jose Valverde on an Alberto Callaspo home run and a Rick Ankiel double (with the run scoring on a Scott Sizemore error). Farnsworth still gets the win, of course. Because he’s a winner. And knows how to win. If Bert Blyleven had Farnsworth’s kind of winnerness about him, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 3: Kelly Johnson pays early dividends on the Dbacks’ investment in him with two long home runs. “That happens sometimes when you’re not thinking about trying to hit a
homer,” Johnson said after the game. Kind of like messin’ around and gettin’ a triple double. Chris Young and Justin Upton also went deep. Another newcomer — Ian Kennedy — had some trouble in the second inning, giving up three runs, but struck out eight and allowed no runs in any of his other four innings.

Athletics 6, Mariners 5: This was the third nail-biter in a row for these two teams, with the score tied at five heading into the ninth before Kurt Suzuki’s walkoff RBI double. Suzuki had also tied the game in the seventh with another RBI double. If he had one more he would have messed around and gotten a triple double. Um, OK, not as funny the second time, I realize that.  Justin Duchscherer made his first start since 2008, allowing five runs in five and two-thirds, but the A’s bullpen blanked the M’s over the rest of the game.

Twins 4, Angels 2: Carl Pavano was sharp (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6K) and made his way out of a couple of jams in the second and fourth innings. J.J. Harday and Morneau each went deep for the second straight night. Jon Rauch gave up a run and two hits in a save situation, but he has wicked neck tattoos, so it’s all good.

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
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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
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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.