Red Sox' Ortiz watches his two-run home run with Yankees' Cervelli during their MLB American League baseball game in Boston

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

63 Comments

Red Sox 9, Yankees 5: I was watching this game until Curt Schilling and Nomar Garciaparra started talking about intangibles and how so-and-so has them “off the charts.” Which, given that they’re INTANGIBLE, what freaking chart could possibly measure them?  And another thing: Schilling talked about the game changing, saying that Dustin Pedroia never would have been drafter 15, 25 years ago. Of course he wouldn’t have! Baseball teams HATED good players back then and they never, ever, ever drafted short middle infielders. They were all talent-free giants! That was the style at the time! So yeah, this is why I didn’t watch the rest of the game. Rage issues. Sorry. Red Sox won. Whoop-dee-doo.

Rays 4, Rangers 1: Joe Maddon didn’t let James Shields get the complete game — he was at 110 pitches after eight — but I got this feeling that he coulda pulled it off. Fantastic season for Shields.

Giants 4, Cubs 0: I guess the Giants will always have enough offense if their pitchers shut out the other team. Madison Bumgarner allowed two hits and struck out 11 in eight innings.

Twins 7, White Sox 6: “All it takes is one bad inning to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad inning. You had a bad inning once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad inning and everything changed.” — Jake Peavy.

Indians 4, Athletics 3: Jack Hannahan hit an RBI single with one out in the 16th inning to win it. Cleveland is back in second place, having won three in a row.

Dodgers 4, Padres 2: A two-run homer for Rod Barajas helps the Dodgers to their eighth win in nine games. Insane: the Dodgers could theoretically finish at .500. Didn’t see that coming a couple of months ago.

Tigers 5, Royals 4: A three-run eighth inning brought the Tigers back from behind. Austin Jackson went 4 for 4 and scored three times.

Braves 3, Nationals 1: Chipper Jones hit his 450th career home run.  Derek Lowe hit his first career home run, however, ensuring that Chipper gained no additional ground. Craig Kimbrel breaks the rookie saves record.

Blue Jays 13, Orioles 0: Damn.  The four homers were bad, but getting shut the hell out for eight innings by Henderson Alvarez just adds insult to, well, insult. For the third or fourth time this year I must write that this is a low point for the Orioles. This time I really do think I mean it.

Mets 3, Marlins 2: Jason Bay had three hits, including an RBI single that tied the game. He’s just excited about all of that center field talk, I’m sure.

Phillies 3, Reds 0: Cliff Lee shut out the Reds for eight and two-thirds but loaded the bases in the ninth. Three Ryan Madson pitchers later, the game was over.  Dude totally has a closer’s mentality. Amirite?

Astros 2, Pirates 0: Seven shutout innings for J.A. Happ? Sure. Why not?

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2: Nine straight for Arizona. Miguel Montero was 2 for 4 with a homer and three driven in.

Cardinals 8, Brewers 3: Jake Westbrook hit his first career homer — a grand slam no less — to help the Cards take their second straight from division-leading Milwaukee. Solo shots from Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols too.  This isn’t yet critical for Milwaukee — they could drop two of three in both this series and next week’s series and will still have only lost two games’ ground on the Cards — but they really don’t need to be swept by them.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: A great pitching matchup between Felix Hernandez and Dan Haren that makes me wish I could stay up late and sleep in the next morning in order to catch it. But alas, such is not my lot nor my geography in life. Hernandez goes the distance allowing one run on five hits while striking out 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
18 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
1 Comment

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.