And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Johan Santana sitting.jpgPhillies 11, Mets 5: Look, there are about 17 different ways in which
Johan Santana’s awful night could be described, but I think the fact
that he walked Jamie Moyer with the bases loaded in the fourth pretty
much tells you all you need to know. The Victorino grand slam that
immediately followed was less troublesome than that in my mind. Final line for
Santana: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 10 ER, 4 HR. On the bright side, after the
Phillies put up the nine-spot in the fourth, I was able to turn off the
game and go through the cool stuff I bought at the baseball card show I
went to yesterday. My favorite find: the SI issue from 1972 with Dick
Allen smoking a cig and juggling baseballs in the White Sox dugout on the cover
. It’s
totally going up on the wall of my office. You know, for inspiration.

Rays 1, Royals 0:  Gary Gooper in “High Noon” had more help than Zach Greinke has whenever he takes the hill. He ought to throw his badge in the dirt and get on the train with Grace Kelly and leave town. Four hit, a single earned run, six strikeouts and another loss. He’s gonna wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For
a tin star.

Tigers 5, Angels 1: Justin Verlander had been as inefficient as a Rube Goldberg machine his past couple of starts, but he streamlined things nicely — at least for him — with a three-hit, 7K, 0BB 120-pitch outing against the Halos. He retired 23 straight Angels at one point.

Dodgers 9, Pirates 3: Eight strong innings from Hiroki Kuroda, four hits from Blake DeWitt, a 3 for 4 day from James Loney and a 3 for 5 with two homers from Andre Ethier help the Dodgers complete a ship-righting series against the Pirates.

Rockies 4, Giants 1:  Jason Giambi apparently created some sort of infinite improbability field in the fourth inning which allowed him to commit the quite improbable act of a lummox like him stealing second base. This no doubt rattled Jonathan Sanchez to no end, because he walked three straight batters after that, giving the Rockies a 1-0 lead. The rest of the game promptly vanished in a puff of ill-logic, at least from the Giants’ perspective.

Rangers 3, Mariners 1: Tough luck no-decision for Doug Fister, who was perfect into the sixth inning and gave up only three hits through eight, but then had David Aardma come in and blow the save. Not that he was rocked or anything. In fact, the Rangers won this one without the benefit of a single extra-base hit, which isn’t something you see every day.

Padres 8, Brewers 0: The Brewers were shutout in three of the four games of this series and were outscored 21-2. To say that they’re reeling would be such an insult to reels everywhere that the Zebco corporation would probably consider filing suit.

Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: And the sweep. Nice start from Josh Beckett, but Jason Varitek getting gunned down at home by a mile in the eighth (why was he not pinch-run for again, Terry?) and Jonathan Papelbon failing to get the job done in the tenth (his second inning of work) doomed Boston.   The Orioles have seven wins on the season. Four of them have come against the Bosox.

Cubs 10, Diamondbacks 5: The Cubs take three of four from Arizona on the strength of Alfonso Soriano’s four homers and 10 RBIs. The Cubs have won 7 of 10.

Blue Jays 9, Athletics 3: Shaun Marcum snags the win with plenty of run support after a handful of tough luck losses. The Jays are back to .500, confounding my expectations of them being some trainwreck of a 90+ loss team this year.

Cardinals 6, Reds 0: Chris Carpenter toyed with the Redlegs (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8K). Albert Pujols had a bases loaded double. Aaron Harang has had a nightmare of a season so far, but he was decent enough yesterday, giving up three runs over six innings, striking out six and not walking anyone. The Reds highlight of the day, however, came up on Columbus at that card show I went to, when I spotted an autographed photo of Pete Rose flipping the bird while wearing a loud and garish 1970s business suit. Dude wanted too much for it, though, so I gave it a pass. I’m regretting it this morning.

Yankees 12, White Sox 3: Seven shutout innings from Phil Hughes and an offensive onslaught gives the Yankees yet another series win. Someone told Mark Teixeira it was May (4 for 5, 2B, 2 RBI).

Braves 7, Astros 1: A much-needed sweep for the Braves. Jason Heyward went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI (Yawn). Melky Cabrera went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI and Derek Lowe pitched well (someone alert the authorities).

Marlins 9, Nationals 3: Hanley Ramirez hit a pair of homers and had 4 RBI. Someone told Hanley it’s May too, because as soon as the calendar changed, he got hot.

Twins 8, Indians 3:  Catcher Wilson Ramos, filling in for the injured Joe Mauer, gets four hits in his major league debut. That’s a pretty rare feat, as it has been 12 years since the last time someone had four hits in his major league debut. Francisco Liriano was relatively mortal for once, giving up three runs in seven innings, but he still struck out nine, and with 20 hits behind him, he didn’t need to throw a one-hitter or anything crazy like that.

If you’re wanting to nitpick I suppose you could wonder how a team that got 20 hits and five walks only scored eight runs, but I’m not really in the mood to nitpick: I have a whole box of baseball card show swag to mess with this morning, and that’s way more fulfilling than talking about hitting with runners in scoring position and all that jive.

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)
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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.