Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander loses no-hitter in eighth, Jered Weaver ejected

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3:45 p.m. EDT: It’s over, with the Tigers winning 3-2.  Jose Valverde replaced Verlander to start the ninth and walked leadoff man Bobby Abreu, but he bounced back to retire the next three batters.  Erick Aybar, who started the eighth-inning rally with his bunt, popped up foul to end it.

We’ll likely be hearing more about this one in a bit.  Mike Scioscia was tossed along with Weaver, and both manager press conferences could be tasty.

3:21 p.m. EDT: The no-hitter is gone and Detroit’s lead has been cut to 3-2 as the result of a Maicer Izturis two-out RBI single to left field.  Verlander may have lost his composure a bit, but much of the blame here needs to go third baseman Don Kelly, who didn’t take the easy out on Peter Bourjos’ grounder and who also contributed to botching the rundown.  Verlander should have been out of the inning.

3:17 p.m. EDT: After a groundout put Aybar on third, Peter Bourjos grounded to third baseman Don Kelly.  Rather than take the sure out, Kelly went home and put Aybar into a rundown.  Aybar, though, escaped what was a pretty ugly rundown from the Tigers when Verlander, who was definitely nudged by the baserunner, dropped the ball.  It’s 3-1 Tigers, but the no-hitter remains intact with one out in the eighth.  Verlander is now over 100 pitches.

3:12 p.m. EDT: Gotta love the drama.  Erick Aybar broke the unwritten rule by dropping down a bunt on the first pitch of the eighth.  It wasn’t a very good one, and Verlander had a play on him, but he threw wildly of first base for what was ruled, by Detroit’s official scorer, an error on the pitcher.

3:05 p.m. EDT: And this game has suddenly taken a dramatic turn.  Carlos Guillen decided to show Weaver up after a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, and Weaver responded by throwing his very next pitch at Alex Avila’s head.  Fortunately, it sailed over Avila’s head.  Weaver was immediately tossed, as he knew he would be the moment he let the pitch go.

Now Verlander is going to have a much longer wait than anticipated headed into the eighth inning.

2:50 p.m. EDT: Verlander walked Abreu for a second time in the seventh inning, but he got through the frame without a hit.  He’s six outs away from another piece of history.

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Justin Verlander, who pitched his second career no-hitter back on May 7 against the Blue Jays, has held the Angels hitless through six innings Sunday.

Verlander walked Bobby Abreu in the fourth inning, but he’s retired the other 18 hitters he’s faced.  He struck out six and threw 76 pitches through the six innings.

Thanks to a Magglio Ordonez homer in the third, the Tigers are up 2-0.  Jered Weaver is on the mound for the Angels and has allowed just three hits himself.

If Verlander can do it again, he’d join Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax, (four), Larry Corcoran (three), Bob Feller (three) and Cy Young (three) as the only pitchers with more than two no-hitters.

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.