And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Braves 5, Marlins 1: Sometimes there’s a man. I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero?
But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talkin’ about Brooks Conrad here.
Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He
fits right in there. And that’s Brooks Conrad, in Atlanta (1 for 4, HR, 3 RBI).

Padres 3, Cubs 0: San Diego snaps out of it and stays alive. A four-hitter led by Chris Young for five innings and finished by the pen. If the Padres do make it into the playoffs, Young will be huge for them. Partially because he’s 6’10” — that’s huge! — but also because he has an ERA of 0.90 in four starts this year.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 1: But thanks to the Braves and Giants winning, the Padres don’t gain on anyone.  Eleven Ks in seven innings for Lincecum and a three-run home run for Pat Burrell. Burrell’s homer really shouldn’t count though, what with him being a guy who the Giants just went out and got and slapped “San Francisco” across his chest.

Rangers 6, Mariners 5: A walkoff strikeout. In which the winning team struck out. Classic. You gotta see it to believe it. The beautiful thing about this was that Nelson Cruz had to swing at a wild pitch for it work. If I ran the Rangers’ kangaroo court I’d probably fine him for that even if it did constitute the winning, um, strikeout.

Indians 4, Tigers 0; Indians 4, Tigers 3: Here’s something I’m having trouble processing: Johnny Damon’s start in the first game made him only the fifth player in history to play in 140 games in 15 consecutive seasons.
The others: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson
and Pete Rose. I never would have been able to come up with that list. I probably would have put Ripken on it and been wrong (thanks 1994 strike!). I never would have put Damon on it. Indians sweep the doubleheader, by the way.

Brewers 8, Mets 7; Brewers 3, Mets 1: In the first game, Milwaukee had a six run lead, blew it, and then came back to win it on a Prince Fielder RBI single in the eighth. According to the game story, only “several hundred fans” were in the crowd. In the second, Trevor Hoffman got the save. He wouldn’t have been closing if John Axford hadn’t closed the first game, but now he has 601 instead of 600. I can’t tell you how dissatisfying it is that he’s not finishing with a round number. It’s like one blade of grass sticking up out of the middle of an otherwise manicured lawn.

Angels 2, Athletics 1: The first sentence of the AP game story: “Torii Hunter’s two-out single had barely hit the outfield grass when pink fireworks shot up from the fake rock pile at Angel Stadium.” That sounds less like a game story than the opening lines of a novel written by a sophomore creative writing student. It’s about suburban ennui and the lack of authenticity in 21st century America. He wrote it in his parents’ basement in a upper middle class enclave — maybe Lake Forest, Illinois — right after an argument with his father about the scratch he put in door of the Volvo on the way back from Hot Topic, where he was buying a Che Guevara shirt.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 6: Matt Kemp — who hit a two-run homer on Tuesday night — smacked a grand slam yesterday. It’s been a long season, but he’s ending it strong: “End strong and give ’em a little preview of what is to come next year,” he said after the game. If the Dodgers sweep the Dbacks this weekend, they end at an even .500.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 1: With the exception of Colby Rasmus, the Cardinals basically put out the pu pu platter lineup. Really, it was one of the few times all year when the Pirates could be said to have had decidedly better hitters going than the opposition did. Didn’t matter, though, as the Bucs just couldn’t figure out P.J. Walters (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER).

Astros 2, Reds 0: I’m kind of busy so I don’t have time to check the game story here, but based on the lineup that the Reds were running out for this one, I assume it was called in favor of the Astros when it got dark and the Reds batters had to go home. I mean, they have school this morning, and they get cranky if they don’t get in their jammies and into bed before 9.
 
Orioles 2, Rays 0: A capacity crowd of 36,973 was on hand! Which means that, once you take away the 20,000 free ones the team handed out, actual paid attendance was lower last night than it was on Tuesday. Eh, whatever. They’ll sell out their playoff games, people will ring those damn cowbells and wear the big blue mohawk wigs again, and we’ll all be wishing they stayed home. In other news: Kevin Millwood is still alive (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 7K).

Phillies 7, Nationals 1: The Phillies rested the starters they didn’t rest on Tuesday night and threw out Blanton instead of Oswalt. This time they cruise instead of lose. They should just play split squad games against themselves until the playoffs start. I’d watch that. Wouldn’t you watch that?  Adam Dunn got the golden sombrero (0 for 4, 4Ks) in what could have been his last home game as a Nat.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 4: Know what’s gonna be hilarious? When Javier Vazquez signs with some big-park NL team next season and goes 15-8 with a 2.85 ERA. He and Carl Pavano can do commercials together. Yankees fans heads will explode. For now though, well, yuck (4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). A-Rod hit a bomb to give him 30 on the year to go with his 100+ RBI. He has strung a bunch of those together.

Twins 4, Royals 2: According to the game story, “Delmon Young became the fifth Minnesota Twin to hit 20 home runs, 40 doubles and drive in 100 runs in the same season.” The story said he “joined some elite company.”  Then the elite company was listed: Kirby Puckett, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer. OK, I’ll grant you Puckett — Hall of Famer — and Morneau — former MVP — but Cuddyer and Hunter aren’t exactly “elite.” I mean, if I was running Club Awesome I’d probably allow my doorman to let them in eventually, but I’d probably have him make them cool their heels behind the velvet rope for a few minutes. And they would NOT get a nice table once inside.

White Sox 5, Red Sox 2: Josh Beckett finishes the season 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA. Thank GOD for that contract extension, or else the Sox wouldn’t have had this guy at $15.75 million a year through 2014. That’s a risk they could not have taken.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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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.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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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.