And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

15 Comments

Rays 5, Tigers 0: The no-no for Matt Garza. Indeed, there were only three hits in the whole game. Unfortunately for Max Scherzer and the Tigers, one of them was a grand slam.  For Garza, only one walk — and that guy was erased on a double play — making it a near-perfecto. It was the fifth no-hitter in baseball this year. Only 17,000 witnessed it live.

Twins 19, Royals 1: Just a magical night last night I guess as right on the heels of Garza’s performance, Zack Greinke and the Royals bullpen combine for a 20-hitter. How often does a 4 for 4, 4 RBI night not stand as the game’s best hitting line? That was Danny Valencia’s. Joe Mauer, however, pulled a 5 for 5, 7 RBI night out of his hat, however.

Red Sox 6, Angels 3: Dan Haren’s debut with the Angels ended early when a comebacker smacked him in the arm. It swelled up but Haren thinks it’s just a flesh wound. He’s going to be reevaluated today. If he has to miss some time, boy howdy, that would be bad luck for Anaheim.  For Boston, two homers from Big Papi and the return of Victor Martinez made the night a nice one.

Phillies 5, Rockies 4: Philly sweeps the Rockies despite a near-meltdown by Brad Lidge in the ninth. After the game Lidge said “it just goes to show that you never know what’s going to happen.”  Ya know, Brad, with you we kind of do know what’s going to happen. We just don’t know if the self-inflicted wounds will be fatal or not.

Cubs 5, Astros 2: Carlos Silva now has 10 wins on the season. Pitchers who do not have 10 wins: John Lackey, Cliff Lee, Francisco Liriano, Trevor Cahill, Johan Santana, A.J. Burnett, Matt Cain, Dan Haren, Tommy Hanson . . .

Brewers 3, Reds 2: Jim Edmonds hit a two-out pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning that proved to be the game winner. He’s hitting .283/.353/.513 despite being in tremendous pain from various injuries and despite taking 2009 off.  I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is his last year, but it’s been a gutsy friggin’ year for a guy who may or may not ultimately be Hall of Fame worthy, but who probably won’t get as much consideration as he probably deserves.

Yankees 3, Indians 2: Another homer for Curtis Granderson — a two-run job that put the Yankees ahead for good in the eighth — and one for Nick Swisher, but none for Alex Rodriguez. Which sucks. Not because I really care too much about 600, but because I’m really tired of the live cut-ins that ESPN is doing with his at bats. Jake Westbrook had a nice start going until that bomb, having given up only two hits. The trade bonuses in his contract may prevent him being dealt, but maybe he raised an eyebrow or two.

Marlins 4, Giants 3: The Feesh are now above .500. But get this: after the game the Marlins announced that Chris Coghlan may miss 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. How’d he get it? He hurt himself while delivering a pie to the face of Wes Helms’ following Sunday’s walkoff win over the Braves.  Coghlan can expect a call from Kendry Morales’ lawyer any day now for stealing his bit.

White Sox 6, Mariners 1: John Danks (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER). out-pitches King Felix for his fourth straight win. A nice catch for Ichiro though, robbing Mark Kotsay of a homer.

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 5: It was 80s night at Rogers Centre last night with 80s music, clothes and
all that jazz. The Orioles’ didn’t participate, however, as they were
often quite good in the 80s. Jose Bautista hit his 28th homer as the Jays beat the O’s for the tenth straight time. Another short night for the O’s starter. After the game Juan Samuel said “we just can’t continue to do this or we’re going to kill those guys down in the bullpen.” In the team’s defense, there have been times this year when just such a thing was called for.

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.