National League 3, American League 1: If you cared about the All-Star Game all that much you watched it, and if you didn’t watch it you probably don’t care, so there won’t be an in-depth recap from me (click the link in the score for the game story). Suffice it to say that I’m pleased the National League won and I’m pleased that they won because Braves’ catcher Brian McCann hit a bases clearing double to plate all three NL runs. For the first time in several years I have a rooting interest in who has home field advantage in the World Series, so this outcome is a good one as far as I’m concerned.
Still, I can’t say the game itself was necessarily satisfying, for many of the reasons I cited earlier this week. I won’t go blow-by-blow on this, but any claim that the All-Star Game “counts” for anything is
negated when its participants make the free choice to do things like substitute in Matt Capps for Roy Halladay when the latter has thrown only 17 pitches like Charlie Manuel did. Likewise such claims are forfeited when a manager is given a roster of approximately 147 players but can’t see fit to keep a pinch runner available to avoid things like David Ortiz getting forced out at second base on a single to the outfield.
Both of these moves — Manuel’s babying of the National League’s best pitcher, Roy Halladay, and Joe Girardi refusing to pinch run with his lone available player, Alex-Rodriguez — were likely borne of the manager wanted to preserve and protect the health of his everyday player at the expense of making the right tactical decisions in the All-Star Game. My view of things: If the managers tasked with winning the game don’t care enough about its outcome to make good baseball decisions, why should I as a fan be expected to care?
That reservation aside, yes, I watched the whole thing. And yes, I even enjoyed parts of it. Because I was screwing around on Twitter all night I wasn’t concentrating on the play-by-play that much, so there were only about five instances when Buck and McCarver made me want to commit bloody murder. Maybe a new low for them. Despite the overkill I think I want to see that new Leo DiCaprio movie. Overall, it could have been way worse.
Now all we have to do is get through one more real baseball-free day and then we’re back in business.
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.
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.