James Loney, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Thornton AP

Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Last night’s matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale had all the makings of a classic pitchers’ duel. But as it often happens in this game, things didn’t exactly turn out as expected.

Adam Dunn set the tone early by slugging a two-run homer off Kershaw in the top of the first inning. It was his major league-leading 23rd homer of the season and the fourth of his career against Kershaw. No other player has more than two against the 2011 National League Cy Young award winner. Kershaw ended up allowing five runs (four earned) over six innings.

Sale actually carried a four-run cushion into the bottom of the sixth, but he was chased after giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. The young southpaw was replaced by Jesse Crain, who allowed a two-run double to Elian Herrera and an RBI single to Juan Rivera which put the Dodgers in front. Sale ended up being charged with a season-high five runs over 5 2/3 innings. It was the first time he had allowed more than two runs in a start since May 12.

Even though the Kershaw-Sale matchup didn’t live up to the billing, this was still a very entertaining ballgame. After the White Sox pulled even in the top of the eighth on Alex Rios’ second homer of the night, the Dodgers took the lead in the bottom half of the frame when James Loney scampered home on a wild pitch thrown by left-hander Matt Thornton. Kenley Jansen then tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to finish off the 7-6 victory.

The Dodgers still own the best record in the majors at 41-24 and currently lead the Giants by four games in the National League West.

Your Friday box scores:

Red Sox 0, Cubs 3

Pirates 0, Indians 2

Rockies 12, Tigers 4 (10 innings)

Yankees 7, Nationals 2

Phillies 0, Blue Jays 3

Marlins 0, Rays 11

Orioles 2, Braves 4

Astros 2, Rangers 6

Brewers 5, Twins 3

Royals 3, Cardinals 2

Diamondbacks 5, Angels 0

Reds 7, Mets 3

Padres 2, Athletics 10

Giants 4, Mariners 2

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.