Red Sox's Ortiz celebrates his two run home run against the New York Yankees with teammate Youkilis during the first inning of American League MLB baseball action at Yankee Stadium

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

89 Comments

Red Sox 11, Yankees 6: The Bosox once again jump all over the Yankees, this time giving A.J. Burnett his worst night of the year. Notably, no Red Sox players were plunked in this one — And David Ortiz hit another homer — so I’m sure the tabloids that were calling for retribution for the Ortiz bat flip on Tuesday night are going to be up in arms this morning. The Red Sox are alone in first place.

Pirates 3, Diamondbacks 2: Andrew McCutchen walked off with a homer in the bottom of the 12th. He also scored a run to tie it in the bottom of the 10th following a double. He also drove in a run on a sacrifice in the third. You could say that it was his night.

Brewers 7, Mets 6:  Nyjer Morgan hit a walkoff double, though he didn’t realize it because he thought it was the eighth inning. Seriously. Two homers for Prince Fielder including the two-run job that tied it in the eighth. That second one put Fielder past Gorman Thomas for third on the Brewers’ all-time home run list with 209.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: Derek Lowe deserved better than a no-decision after taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. But, as usual, the Braves don’t score a lot and Fredi Gonzalez uses the same three relievers he uses every single game. One of them — Craig Kimbrel — is so obviously being overused that someone ought to call closer protective services for a home visit. Kimbrel blows the save but Freddie Freeman salvages the win for him — hey! Kimbrel knows how to win! — with an RBI single in the 10th.

Astros 4, Cardinals 1: Bud Norris had a no-hitter going into the seventh as well, but the Astros’ old friend Lance Berkman broke it up with a homer. It would be the only hit that Norris gave up in his eight innings of work, however.

Twins 3, Indians 2: The Twins blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth when bona fide closer Matt Capps gave up a homer, but Ben Revere drove in a run in the bottom of the tenth.  The Tribe went 1-6 on the homestand. They’re crashing like Skylab. Let us hope that The Shire of Esperance, Western Australia, doesn’t fine the Indians $400 for littering after impact.

Giants 3, Nationals 1: Matt Cain was the man, tossing a five-hit complete game with 11Ks. He also doubled in the first run of the game — all together now — helping his own cause.

Cubs 4, Reds 1: The eight-game losing streak is history as the Cubbies beat the Reds on a hot, hot afternoon. Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez went back-to-back in the fourth inning.  Ryan Dempster went six strong innings despite having hip problems before the game and being unable to get loose. Tight works too, I suppose.

Rockies 5, Padres 3: The Rockies score more than three runs for the first time in a good long while, the final two on a Troy Tulowitzki double in the ninth to break the 3-3 tie. Tulo had an RBI single in the fifth too.

Phillies 2, Dodgers 0: Cole Hamels with eight shutout innings and nine strikeouts. Not much else to say about that, really.

Orioles 3, Athletics 2: And this is all anyone needs to hear about the Athletics’ losing streak.

Rangers 7, Tigers 3: Alexi Ogando moves to 7-0 as he helps the Rangers avoid the sweep. Three hits for Elvis Andrus. A homer for Adrian Beltre. A bad night for Phil Coke.

Blue Jays 9, Royals 8:  In the sixth, Ned Yost chose to intentionally walk Jose Bautista, loading the bases, to get to Adam Lind. Two pitches later, Lind hit a grand slam. Maybe it was a good decision, but good decisions != good outcomes.

Mariners 7, White Sox 4: Miguel Olivo has been kind of hot ever since we mocked him last week. So hey, you’re welcome, M’s fans. Seattle’s most indispensible player drove in three, including a two-run double in the 10th.

Rays 4, Angels 3: The Rays blew a 3-0 lead for James Shields in the eighth, but salvaged it with some small ball — Reid Brignac’s RBI bunt — in the tenth. A sweep for Tampa Bay.

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
19 Comments

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)
Getty Images
2 Comments

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.