And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 7, Nationals 6: The Phillies are white hot and may very well be the best team in baseball at the moment. They were down 6-3 in the ninth but, hey, no problem: They got a two-run single by Ryan Howard and a two-run homer by Jayson Werth and with that they won their seventh in a row. Philly has only dropped three games in September, and now they have their number one, number one-A and number one-B starters going against the Braves at home this week.

Giants 9, Brewers 2: The NL West has been tighter than a duck’s butt lately (note: I think Dan Rather said that one once about an election. I’m not
really sure), but the Giants take over the top spot. Jose Guillen hit a grand slam in the first and the
Giants never looked back. Thanks to the run support — which he has not
had a hell of a lot of recently — Barry Zito got his first win since
July 16th.

Cardinals 4, Padres 1: Adam Wainwright shut the Padres down to win his
19th. San Diego falls into second place, a half game behind San Francisco and 2.5 back of the
Braves in the wild card.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 6: The Rockies jumped all over Clayton Kershaw,
grabbing a 6-1 lead after two innings. That’s all they’d get, though, as
L.A. chipped away at the lead, tying it on a Matt Kemp double in the
ninth and winning it on an A.J. Ellis — A.J. Ellis? — yes, A.J. Ellis
RBI single in the 11th. This one ended in a brisk four hours and
twenty-one minutes.

Angels 6, Rays 3: A couple of homers from Bobby Abreu and a win for Scott Kazmir give the Angels a series win. Not exactly the way Tampa Bay wanted to enter the Yankees series.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Luke Scott hits the tying homer off Mariano Rivera in the ninth and comes around to score the winning run on an RBI single in the 11th. Not exactly the way New York wanted to enter the Rays series.

Braves 6, Mets 3: The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then decided to go to sleep or watch football games on their iPhones or something. Derrek Lee smacked a grand slam off double-agent Manny Acosta to help the Braves complete the sweep.

Astros 4, Reds 3: Who ever would have guessed that Brett Myers would be having the season he’s having? Another sharp outing: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER. He lowered his ERA to 2.76 on the season. He’s 8-0 with a 2.01 ERA at home.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 3: I don’t know that Kirk Gibson is managing for the permanent gig right now or if the front office has already made up its mind on the matter. But to the extent his destiny is in his own hands, getting swept by the Pirates ain’t gonna help him.

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: The Mariners have lost a ton of games this year due to their failure to score runs. This past weekend they won two of three despite only scoring five times.

Athletics 6, Twins 2: Losing the game sucks, but losing Joe Mauer to “a jammed knee,” whatever the hell that is, sucks worse. Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth after Jim Thome flew out to center and Delmon Young was called out at second for failing to tag up at first. Gardenhire’s argument was that the centerfielder dropped the ball — which he did — but the ump said it was after the catch and on the transfer, not a drop of the fly itself. Which seems right based on the replay. Just the latest bit of evidence for the need for an outfield fly rule.

Royals 6, Indians 4: This one was alright — Yuniesky Betancourt stole home on a double steal — but Saturday night’s game was the real gem: Time of game: 2:57. Time of rain delays: 3:40.

Cubs 13, Marlins 3: Tyler Colvin’s injury is nothing short of horrific — the bat shard punctured his chest wall and required a chest tube to keep his lung from collapsing.  It was also nothing short of avoidable. Ban maple bats now.

Red Sox 6, Blues Jays 0: Jon Lester won his fifth straight and upped his win total to 18 on the year. Jose Bautista homered on Friday and Saturday — he’s at 49 on the season now — but he grounded out with the sacks jacked twice in this one. The loss officially eliminated the Jays from playoff contention.

Tigers 9, White Sox 7: The Tigers had a 7-3 lead as late as the seventh but blew it, only to win it in extras. Brandon Inge scored the winning run, but he probably shouldn’t have been in a position to do so: he ran to first on a wild pitch on strike three, A.J. Pierzynski threw down to try and nail him and actually did — on the foot — and the ball went flying, sending Inge to third. Oh, and Manny struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. I have this feeling some Chicago writers (and maybe some Boston and L.A. writers) will consider that symbolic of something.

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
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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)
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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.