Dusty Baker, Brandon Phillips

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

56 Comments

Reds 12, Indians 5: One in a bunch of lopsided Thursday games. Brandon Phillips simply abuses Indians pitching as a rule and he did so again yesterday, driving in four. And he likes it too. He said after the game: “Deep down, it feels good to beat up on the Tribe.” Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 21. The Reds sweep the Indians for the first time in four years. They are so close to claiming victory in the Battle of Ohio. And to the victor goes the spoils!  Soon the Reds will dine on the finest bologna and Velveeta the Buckeye State has to offer and the streets of Columbus, Lima and Akron will flow with the blood of the non-believers!

Cardinals 5, White Sox 3: Adam Dunn tied Josh Hamilton for the MLB lead in homers with his 22nd bomb. He’s on pace for 57 homers and 255 strikeouts. His average is .227 yet his OPS is .940. Dude is too weird to live, too rare to die. Sure, the Cardinals won, but that’s a mere detail. We’re in the business of building this donkey’s legend here, friend.

Mets 9, Rays 6: Johan Santana was less-than-sharp, but the Mets sweep the Rays behind two homers from Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Jason Bay added one too. That’s something considering he’s on a “hey, good for you!” basis for doing anything more than falling over these days.

Tigers 5, Cubs 3: Detroit wins its second straight over Chicago and Justin Verlander notches a win for the first time in a month. Most notable, however: just how thoroughly Detroit fans took over Wrigley Field in this series. It was basically a home game for the Tigers. Someone in Chicago had better come up with some sort of “Cubsitude” campaign. Or something.

Orioles 12, Pirates 6: Baltimore unloads on former mate Erik Bedard for their biggest offensive night of the season. Steve Pearce homered and drove in five. Matt Wieters drove in five and did it without even hitting a homer. The O’s were up 10-0 before the Pirates got a run. Just a shellacking.

Athletics 8, Rockies 2: Oakland has one of the worst offenses in the game but leaves Colorado having scored 26 runs in a three-game sweep. Meanwhile, Jarrod Parker allowed only three hits over seven scoreless innings. The Rockies are simply cratering.

Phillies 6, Twins 1: Know what Charlie Manuel needed? A night when he didn’t have to call on that freak show bullpen of his. And Joe Blanton gave it to him. Blanton threw a complete game, allowing one run on seven hits. Jim Thome hit a three-run bomb because he is Jim Thome and all he does is mash taters.

Royals 4, Brewers 3: For the second night in a row the Royals got to the back end of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Though really, this isn’t all on John Axford. He struck out the first man he faced but strike three was a wild pitch, allowing him to reach (note: like 75% of wild pitches seem to come on balls the catcher should at least knock down and passed balls are rarely called these days). The winning run scored on a dumb decision by shortstop Edwin Maysonet, who cut off a throw from the outfield in an effort to get the batter which allowed the lead runner to come around and score.

Diamondbacks 11, Rangers 3: Arizona salvages one and breaks out of a run scoring drought to do it. Daniel Hudson struck out seven in seven innings, rebounding from a nightmare start his last time out.

Astros 6, Giants 3: It was an extremely Barry Zito third inning, as he walked the bases loaded and then allowed a grand slam to J.D. Martinez. Brandon Belt hit his third homer in as many games. It’s gonna be extra fun when Bruce Bochy comes up with an excuse to bench him next time. I’m gonna go with “those homers are rally-killers” or some variation on that theme.

Padres 6, Mariners 2: The sweep. Edinson Volquez allowed one run and four hits while pitching into the seventh. Overall, Padres starters basically shut down the M’s lineup. Good for them and all, but I hope the pitching doesn’t continue to be good. Because I’ll be at the Padres-Rangers game with my kids on Monday night and if anyone takes a no-hitter late, I can totally see my kids being all like “can we GO?” At which point I’ll put them up for adoption.

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.