Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 3, Athletics 2: Holy ninth inning rally, Batman! Josh Willingham hits a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Brian Fuentes after the Twins were shutout for six innings by Jarrod Parker and two by Jerry Blevins and Grant Balfour.

Angels 5, Yankees 1: The Angels win again and are now over .500. And Pujols hits his eighth homer. Mark Trumbo homered again. Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos put on a defensive clinic. That’s 11 of 15 for Anaheim and eight in a row. It’s like April and the first half of May never happened.

Marlins 3, Nationals 1: Anibal Sanchez hasn’t lost to the Nationals in 19 starts (he’s 8-0 with a 1.97 ERA against Washington). That’s pretty impressive. As was his performance in last night’s game (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER). The Marlins are 20-8 in the month of May, which is the best record in baseball in that span.

White Sox 7, Rays 2: Chicago is also hot. They’re winners of seven straight after rocking Big Game James for six runs on ten hits. Hideki Matsui had a homer in his first game back in the bigs.

Mets 6, Phillies 3: Joe Blanton didn’t have it. Scott Hairston did, hitting a two-run shot to give the Mets some breathing room in the sixth. Omar Quintanilla made his Mets debut and went 3 for 4 and scored twice. Easily the best debut for a Mets player with Q as the first letter of his last name ever. You can look it up.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Adam Jones hit two homers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Jays, who snagged a 8-1 lead by the fifth inning. Brett Lawrie had three hits and three RBI. And no umpires were harmed in the making of this baseball game. The O’s have dropped four straight and seven of ten.

Braves 5, Cardinals 4: The Braves finally break their losing skid thanks to a three run homer by Dan Uggla and a shot from Michael Bourn as well. Fredi Gonzalez batted the pitcher eighth. I’m guessing Fredi credits that bit of strategy for the win and will be doing it constantly now.

Royals 8, Indians 2: Mike Mike Moustakas drove in four and Will Smith got his first career win. In other news, whenever the Royals face the Indians, I get the lyric from Dylan’s “Summer Days” in my head which goes like this: “I got a house on a hill, I got hogs out lying in the mud/Got a long-haired woman, she got royal Indian blood.”  It’s a fairly nonsense song, but it rocks and gallops, Dylan has gotten away with that kind of thing for 50 years now and I love it so I don’t care.

Cubs 5, Padres 3: Jeff Samardzija struck out eight in seven innings on what was his own bobblehead day in Wrigley Field. Alfonso Soriano hit a homer. His seventh in 13 games. I don’t guess he gets a bobblehead day this year. The Padres have lost five straight and eight of nine. Which just means the price for that game against the Rangers I’m taking my kids to on June 18th gets cheaper and cheaper. Heck, at his rate I may be able to get some inexpensive Field Box VIP seats or something. Keep losing, San Diego! Do it for the children!

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Justin Verlander done got blowed up (6 IP, 10 H, 5 ER). David Ortiz went 3 for 4, doubled, homered and drove in a couple.

Reds 8, Pirates 1: Reds third baseman Todd Frazier had two hits and drove in two, helping snap the Pirates’ four-game winning streak. The day before he saved someone’s life at a restaurant by giving the Heimlich maneuver. Not a bad 24 hours or so for the guy, no?

Mariners 10, Rangers 3: Josh Hamilton went deep again, but that was about the only thing that went right for the Rangers. John Jaso hit a two-run homer and had an RBI single. Scott Feldman got the loss for the Rangers. He was starting as a fill-in for Neftali Feliz. Roy Oswalt was signed on the same day. Do I gotta draw you a diagram, people?

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: Ryan Braun’s two-run homer in the first was all the Brewers needed. My friend Todd was at the game. He texted me last night to tell me that at one point Braun threw a ball into the stands to a fan, but the fans threw it back to him, which made him laugh. So then at the end of an inning he caught another ball and faked a throw to the stands. Fun times.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 1: Melky Cabrera had three hits. That makes 50 hits this month for him, breaking Willie Mays’ team record for hits in May. He has 77 hits in 50 games. Who knew the Giants were getting mid-2000s vintage Ichiro?

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.