And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 1, Braves 0: All I can say at this point is woe be unto whoever has to face Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt in the playoffs. I suppose it still could be the Braves in the NLCS, but I’d just not prefer to think about that at the moment. A day off and six games against the Nationals and Marlins sounds just lovely right now.

Oh, and yesterday I mentioned things that will prey on my mind all winter. Here’s another one: The Phillies added Roy Oswalt at the trading deadline. The Braves added Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel, and then lost Chipper Jones. That’s an even exchange.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: And the NL West see-saw continues, with the Padres back in first place. Miguel Tejada smacked his 300th homer. It feels like whoever gets to play the Dodgers last will win this thing, because they haven’t put up a fight in weeks, it seems.

Cubs 2, Giants 0: The Cubs have won seven of eight. Mike Quade: you’re passing the audition. The Giants win games nicely. But when they lose, boy do they lose. Four of their last five losses were shutouts.

Diamondbacks 8, Rockies 4: Colorado continues to fail to take care of business, and now find themselves three games back of San Diego. This one was particularly rough: Ubaldo Jimenez was staked to a 4-0 lead before he threw his first pitch. He couldn’t make it past the fourth, giving up five runs on six hits. Jim Tracy said he’s “mentally out of whack.” Maybe he’s just tired.

Rays 7, Yankees 2: After a rain delay knocked out AJ Burnett, Joe Girardi felt like the best way to win this one was to send out Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo — four guys who are highly unlikely to find themselves on the postseason roster. Whatever, Joe.

Twins 5, Indians 1: I’m not going to say that the Indians have packed it in for the season, but when you get beat this badly by a bunch of hungover second stringers, you may not exactly have your head and heart in the game.

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Florida jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first and then held on. Jon Niese was all over the place for the Mets.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 1: A three-run homer and four RBI for Big Papi and a strong outing from John Lackey snap the Sox’ skid. And hey: a scoreless ninth for Papelbon. Miracle of miracles.

Pirates 11, Cardinals 6: Since taking over first place in that kicky and fighty series with the Reds in August, the Cardinals are 3-20 against teams with losing records. That’s absolutely astonishing. And if they lose four more games than they win before the season is out, they too will have a losing record. Which is even more astonishing given the talent on this team.

Brewers 13, Reds 1: Given that the Cards’ loss brought the Reds’ magic number down to three, this shellacking probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. And there’s a bright side: seven or eight innings during which the outcome was not in doubt almost certainly gave Jeff Brantley ample time to talk about ice cream sundaes, barbecue, chilli dogs, professional wrestling and all of that stuff that makes me simultaneously love and loathe him as a radio guy. Just wish I had thought to tune in.

Mariners 6, Blue Jays 3: Jose Lopez went off for three homers, which is more air support than most Mariners starters get in a month.  From the game notes: “Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield and bench coach Nick Leyva
said they will apply to replace the departing Cito Gaston as Toronto manager.”  I like the use of the word “apply.” I picture the job vacancy being posted on the bulletin board above the coffee pot in the break room. I also picture a couple of bitter lifers in a table in the corner grumbling about how “they only post that internally because they have to. It’s all politics, man.”

Tigers 4, Royals 2: Miguel Cabrera got a leadoff single one inning. It was his only hit of the game. He had no other big moments or any RBIs. After the game, Johnny Damon said “Without him, we are probably in the cellar in our division. That’s how good he is.”  Somebody got the talking points!

White Sox 4, Athletics 3: Hey, the Sox won a game! They were down 3-1 in the eighth when Juan Pierre stole home to make it 3-2. Then a walk, a fielder’s choice, a single, a single and a double made it 4-3. Nice comeback for a team that has looked beat for the past two weeks.

Nationals 4, Astros 3: The game story makes an early, prominent mention of the fact that the Nats drew only 12,000 or so for this game.  I’m reading that 70s baseball book, and there is constant mention of teams — even good teams or teams with rich histories and deep fan bases — drawing pathetically by today’s standards. Things like the Yankees getting 19,000 on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium and stuff like that. The Nats’ 12,000 and change was roughly what the Cubs drew on average for the entire 1974, 1975 and 1976 seasons in Wrigley. Just a totally different era.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Jeff Francoeur: secret weapon. He can take a hit-by-pitch. He can score on a passed ball in extra innings. He can find so many ways to beat you.  OK, not fair: he did hit a double to get into position to score on that passed ball.  The Rangers magic number is four heading into a four game series with Oakland, so this could all be done Friday night if everything breaks right.

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)
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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.