Well, Trevor Hoffman was still around to notch his 600th save and no one had to forfeit, but a lot of dudes got the hook in last night’s Cardinals-Brewers game:
- Ken Macha was ejected for arguing when the play was called dead and a run taken off the board after second base umpire Tim Timmons ruled that Craig Counsell slid out of the baseline when trying to break up a double play attempt. Sure looked like the right call to me. Counsell wasn’t anywhere near the bag.
- The next inning, Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was ejected by home plate umpire Bob Davidson for something he said from the dugout. Presumably Davidson’s strike zone had something to do with it and, yeah, you can’t argue balls and strikes, but this one seemed a bit off to me. Either (a) Duncan said something really, really over the line; or (b) Davidson is way too sensitive to criticism. In an ideal world the umps would tune that stuff out, but I suppose it depends on what Duncan said.
- Chris Dickerson later got tossed for arguing balls and strikes, though he was on the field at the time — indeed, he was the strikeout victim — so it was a bit more clear cut.
- Finally, Davidson ejected a fan for heckling Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. The guy was later cited for disorderly conduct, which is often code for “dude, you had too many beers and are acting like an ass.” I’ve never understood ballpark drunks, by the way. Beer there costs like $8. If you’re hellbent on getting drunk, you can get a six pack of relatively top-end beer for eight bucks and watch the game in your rumpus room.
Also worth noting that the umps reversed a call on a throw to first that, at first blush, appeared to pull Albert Pujols into the baseline. After the conference, the umps ruled that Pujols didn’t interfere and called the runner safe. Again, looked like the right call, and good for the boys in blue (well, black and gray) for conferring and changing the call.
Davidson’s strike zone seemed wonky, and we can quibble over whether umps should eject pitching coaches for complaining from the dugout, but all in all it was a pretty solid effort on the confrontation front from the umps. In a year with so many examples of bad umpire behavior, you have to consider this something of a victory for reasonableness.
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.