And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Mets 3, Braves 2: I get the sense that we’ll be calling this one the “Francoeur Game” for some time. A bad route by Frenchie on what should have been a single to right led to the Braves’ second run, but then (a) Kyle Farnsworth walked Francouer on four pitches in the seventh and he came around to score; and (b) Frenchie hit the winning home run off Billy Wagner in the ninth. I can’t be mad at Francoeur. The guy’s not evil and he used to be part of my baseball life. Good for him for doing something great in the course of such an awful season. That dinger probably made his year, and everyone should get that kind of joy in their lives once in a while, even if it pains some of us to have to watch it.

Rays 6, Twins 4: Three-run bombs by Sean Rodriguez and B.J. Upton and now the Rays are in first place.  Why?

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 2: That’s why. Rickey Romero tosses a complete game two-hitter. But New York writers can’t be bothered to break down a great pitching performance by the opposition. No, they have to latch onto or create some narrative to explain the outcome in a way that creates a Yankee hero or a Yankee goat.  To wit: I haven’t seen the column yet, but after this game ended last night the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan tweeted that his story for today would be that the Yankees are “letting 600 get in their heads.”  As if anyone on the team cares beyond what it means for dumb reporters’ questions after the game.  Nothing to do with Girardi penciling in a peculiar bottom of the order. Nothing to do with Romero throwing bullets. It’s not even just an A-Rod story anymore. No, the whole damn team is infected by 600-itis!  Brilliant! UPDATE: Kernan didn’t disappoint: “The milestone has become a millstone around the neck of A-Rod and the Yankees.” Oy.

Red Sox 3, Indians 1: Fisticuffsmanship!  Well, pushing, shoving and jawing anyway. Josh Beckett hit a couple of dudes. So later Indians’ relievers Justin Germano and Jensen Lewis threw behind the backs of Papi and Beltre, respectively, which led to he aforementioned shoving and jawing and then ejecting. As for the baseball, Mike Lowell smacked a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw.

White Sox 12, Tigers 2; Tigers 7, White Sox 1: Like I said a couple of weeks ago: split a double-header and it’s like you wasted a day. Like you’ve ended on a note of ambiguity instead of being able to go to bed with the satisfaction of a win or the emptiness of a loss. With at least said emptiness being a resolved note, rather than a dissonant one. But a split? Runnin’ to stand still, baby. Ha La La La De Day. Ha La La La De Day, ha La La De Day.

Phillies 6, Marlins 1: Roy Halladay struck out nine over seven innings and had a two-run single to boot. The Phillies have lost a ton of position players, but Halladay has been there all year, and there’s no way to overstate how huge that has been.

Orioles 6, Angels 3: Buck Showalter’s Orioles are undefeated.

Pirates 7, Reds 6: The Reds came close to fighting back from a 7-1 deficit but fell a tad short. Hard core Pirates fans and fantasy junkies will be interested to note that Joel Hanrahan appears to have been given closer’s duties in Pittsburgh following the trade of Octavio Dotel. The rest of you can continue reading up on Steelers’ camp.

Astros 18, Cardinals 4: I’m becoming convinced that the NL Central is really a rec softball league.  Best part of this rout: Tony La Russa had infielder Aaron miles pitch the ninth inning yet somehow resisted the urge to play the matchups and yank Miles with a situational lefty infielder later in the inning.

Brewers 4, Cubs 3: When you strike out ten dudes in your major league debut you should probably win that game. Tough stuff for the Cubs’ Thomas Diamond, I guess.  The Cubs just couldn’t get the timely hit to support the kid.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: The Ted Lilly deal is a good one so far. Lilly allowed only one run on two hits over seven without walking a dude. The Padres’ lone run came from one of their deadline pickups, Miguel Tejada, who hit a first inning dinger.

Mariners 3, Rangers 2: The M’s not only scored their first run since Friday, but they snapped their seven game losing streak too. Not that they really brought out the lumber: “They singled us to death,” Ron Washington said after the game.  Hey, whatever gets the job done.

Diamondbacks 6, Nationals 1: Mark Reynolds hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, then was beaned by a pitch in the sixth. Reynolds on the pitch from Colin Balester: “I guess the pitch just got away from him.” I truly hope so. There’s nothing uglier in baseball than pitchers hitting a dude on purpose simply because they hit a homer.

Royals 3, Athletics 2: Alex Gordon was 2 for 4 with a double and a home run, and came around to score the winning run on a fielder’s choice by Gregor Blanco in the ninth. I wonder if they’d take Kyle Farnsworth for Gordon?

Giants 10, Rockies 0: Jonathan Sanchez strikes out nine Rockies in six shutout innings and Colorado does nothing to stop the Giants’ bats (note: I’m still having trouble getting my mind around the Giants having bats).  That sound you hear is all hope abandoning the few remaining riders of the Rockies’ bandwagon.

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)
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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)
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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.