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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 4, Pirates 2: Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 in six innings. The only thing more dominating than he was the Hulk when I went to go see “The Avengers” last night. Upshot: damn fine movie. But the “Dark Night Rises” trailer before it may have been even better. Yes, I realize that I may be reacting emotionally here.

Anyway, a question (and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, move along): why is the Hulk such a malevolent threat when he first transforms on the ship, to the point where Black Widow and everyone in his path is in extreme peril just by being near him, yet during the big battle scene everyone can hang around him and he’s all cool and knows who the bad guys are and stuff? Well, except for Thor that one time.  I’m sure there’s some reason for this besides movie convenience — and I never read the Hulk comics, so if the answer is there, I’m just ignorant about it — but I did think about it.  Oh, and I’m sort of in love with Cobie Smulders now too.  Anyway, enough of that. Other games:

Indians 8, Red Sox 3: The fans booed Josh Beckett off the field. And afterwards he said they were smart fans because he “pitched like sh**.”  That sums it up, no? He gave up seven runs on seven hits and walked two in two and a third innings and ensured that people will make hacky jokes about his golf game for the next five days. (Oh look! They’re here already!)

Orioles 6, Rangers 5: Rangers 7, Orioles 3: Colby Lewis struck out ten but allowed five bombs in Game 1, which is kind of special.  In Game 2, Josh Hamilton hit his 15th homer and drove in two, giving former teammate Tommy Hunter the loss.

Yankees 5, Rays 3: CC Sabathia struck out ten and allowed no earned runs in eight innings, getting his 5th win of the year. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson hit homers.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 2: Henderson Alvarez continues his fine work, allowing only a single earned run over seven. Jason Marquis, not so much. And talk about symbolic futility: runner on third, popup in front of the plate and neither Maquis, catcher Ryan Doumit nor third basemen Trevor Plouffe caught it. It just hit the ground with a sick thud. There are your 2012 Minnesota Twins, folks.

Tigers 10, Athletics 6: Yes, Detroit won — good job for Miguel Cabrera and Andy Dirks having big games as the Detroit offense awoke from its stupor — but that aside, Brandon Inge hit a grand slam against his old mates, giving him 12 RBI in his last four games. As I said yesterday, the closest thing to chaos we have in baseball right now is the relationship Tigers fans have with Brandon Inge, so to see him have a big game against them is rather fun.

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.