Rafael Soriano

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Twins 3: The Yankees got a solid six innings from Ivan Nova and then went Joba-Soriano-Mo for the seventh, eighth and ninth. Since this is obviously a strength of the team and will become a recurring pattern, I’m going to preempt all of the cheeseball broadcasters and columnists who like to apply nicknames to would-be teams of destiny or, at the very least, their component parts: the back end of the Yankees bullpen is JoSoMo. You can put the inflection wherever you want. It doesn’t matter, because the point is to create something catchy enough to stick but lame enough to where everyone will feel a little bit dumb repeating it.  Say it with me: JOsomo. Or joSOmo.  Whatever. I really don’t care!

Braves 2, Brewers 1: One of those days where both of the starters — Brandon Beachy and Chris Narveson — deserved to win, but the difference makers in this one were the pens. Takashi Saito served up gopher balls to Martin Prado and Dan Uggla while Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel shut down the Brew Crew in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Kimbrel was particularly impressive, striking out the side to close it out with sick, knee-high mid-to-upper 90s heat.  If he has banished the control problems he had in the minors, forget about it National League. And, what the hell, let’s try it: MoyVenKim. Er, well, maybe not. Sounds like something you don’t want to order at the non-specific Asian restaurant in the strip mall next to the check cashing place that puts out the “under new management” sign every eight months. Or, if you change the inflection a bit, it could be a Yiddish word my Aunt Ruth used to say all the time to refer to minorities in a derogatory fashion while in polite company. (“I’m telling you dahlink, that moyvenkim down at the oriental place really messed up my order of Moy-Ven-Kim yesterday. Just inedible. And such small portions!”)

Orioles 5, Tigers 1: Break up the O’s! Baltimore wins again, moving to 4-0 on the season, which is their best start in 14 years. Once again young pitching comes through, with Jake Arrieta giving up one run over six innings. On offense the big shot came on a Brian Roberts three-run bomb off Rick Porcello who at one time, I assure you, was thought of as the Next Big Thing even if he hasn’t looked it for a while.

Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 1:  Damp, chilly and windy conditions led to a ghost town in Wrigley. Indeed, there may have been more seagulls swarming the field than there were fans in the stands. No matter, though, as Alfonso Soriano had a homer and an RBI single and Randy Wells, while a bit wild at times, was able to shut the Diamondbacks down after a leadoff homer. A leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist, I should note, which would automatically count as seven runs against the pitcher who surrendered it if I were in charge of baseball, but sadly, I am not.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Charlie Morton was arguably baseball’s worst starter last season. Last night: one run on three hits in six innings. He also walked five, but who’s counting? Oh, Major League Baseball, its member clubs, several statistics organizations and every fan who was keeping score during the game? Well, fine, but he got away with it. All of the Buccos’ runs came in the sixth via a Neil Walker double and an Andrew McCutcheon homer.

Rangers 6, Mariners 4: The Rangers remain perfect. Nelson Cruz has homered in all four games this season. If he keeps that up, man, it will be like a record or something.

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.