And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Fitting. Fitting that it was Halladay on the mound, throwing bullets and likely clinching the Cy Young Award (CG, SHO 2 H, 6K). Fitting that it came in Nats Park in front of thousands of friendly fans, just as the season began. This one also clinches the best record in the NL, giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: They’re still not scoring runs, but a win is a win. Omar Infante singled in the winner in the 11th. Trouble, though: Martin Prado left the game with a “hip pointer,” whatever that is, and is likely going to be out for some time. Time the Braves — clinging to a half-game lead in the wild card — don’t have much of.

Cubs 1, Padres 0: Carlos Zambrano blanked the Padres (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER), dropping them a half game back of Atlanta. They’re still tied in the loss column, though.  Allow me to observe at this point that virtually no one who is not a Braves fan wants Atlanta to beat the Padres for the wild card. Like, I think there’s hostility to the idea.  I can live with that.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5: Another A.J. Burnett disaster start (2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER). Open question right now if he’s in the playoff rotation. Playoffs which, thanks to this loss and the Red Sox’ win, the Yankees will have to wait at least one more day to clinch. Oh, and no home runs for Jose Bautista. I guess he’s off those ‘roids which, none of us would dare accuse him of taking, but about which “questions remain.” Jackass.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 4: If Pittsburgh had won, the Reds would have clinched the division from the comfort of their own living rooms. Now they have to go out and clinch on the field against the Astros. A two-run homer and three RBI for Matt Holliday.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 1: Colorado digs itself into a deeper hole. Ubaldo Jimenez remains stuck on 19 wins. Remember when people were asking if he could win 30 this year? Yeah, spring was fun.

Indians 6, Tigers 3: Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle while coming back to first base on a pickoff attempt. Jim Leyland thought it looked bad. Two of the top MVP candidates — Cabrera and Hamilton — may end the season on the shelf.

Orioles 4, Rays 0: Brian Matusz shut down the Rays for seven innings, striking out eight. Nick Markakis had a nice night: 2 for 5, 3B, 2 RBI. He was involved in every scoring play, either knocking in the run, scoring the run of running around the bases while his teammates did those things.

Mariners 7, Rangers 5: Justin Smoak went three for four and hit a three-run homer against his old team. The Mariners started five rookies. 2011 spring training begins now. It actually began back in June or so, really.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 1: Boston pushes off elimination for one more day thanks to eight strong innings from Clay Buchholz. David Ortiz hit the 100 RBI mark. Mark Buehrle hit the 200 inning mark. Round numbers are fun.

Royals 10, Twins 8: Jarrod Dyson had one home run in 1245 minor league plate appearances, and none since his September callup to Kansas City. He knocked a two-run job last night, though, to go with ten putouts in centerfield, which tied a Royals record. Who knows what may happen, but I dare say he just had the best night playing baseball he will ever have in his life.

Angels 6, Athletics 5: Justin James plunked in a run with the bases loaded in the seventh and then walked in a run immediately thereafter. That’s no fun. Both Oakland and LAA are trying hard to finish at .500 or above. There’s a good chance neither do.

Brewers vs. Mets: Postponed:  See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain. This washout has led to a rarity: a single-admission doubleheader at Citi Field tonight. Here’s hoping the rain holds off and some die hards get eighteen innings of baseball for the price of nine.

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.