There, I said it. Phew.
This topic is pretty silly to begin with, but since it’s been a relatively slow afternoon news-wise, I thought it was worth discussing. You see, during Tuesday’s near no-hitter by the Rangers, I was accused of being a jinx. Yes, it’s true. That stung a little bit at the time, but it’s not going to stop me from mentioning potential no-hitters in the future. My apologies if you hate it, but I just refuse to believe that if I mention the event in progress — as I did here on the blog on Tuesday night — it will have some cosmic effect on the actual game on the field. That’s positively bananas.
We have had five no-hitters this season, including two perfect games, the great majority of which HardballTalk has covered in progress.
April 17: Ubaldo Jimenez
May 9: Dallas Braden
May 29: Roy Halladay
June 25: Edwin Jackson
July 26: Matt Garza
And that’s not even counting how MLB Network cuts into live game action as early as the sixth or seventh inning in some cases, or how the instant-gratification of Twitter has pretty much hacked away at whatever superstitions you once held dear. We live in a world where no-hitters in progress are mentioned more frequently than ever before, yet we have had more no-no’s this season than there have been since 1990.
I don’t want to get all scientific about it, because really, whatever you believe is up to you. The Mets have never thrown a no-hitter, so perhaps the whole darn franchise is a jinx for all I know. Though, I admit Cubs fans may have an argument with me there. The point is, no, I don’t think my words had any impact on Tuesday’s outcome, nor did ESPN’s or MLB Network’s or anybody on Twitter for that matter. Neftali Feliz just happened to miss his location on a fastball to Joe Mauer, who is a pretty good hitter, it turns out.
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.