Derek Norris

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

43 Comments

I’m back after a week’s vacation. I wrote up a long sappy version of it last week, but here’s the short version: San Diego for five days, during which I took Mookie and Carlo to their first ever major league game to see the Rangers vs. the Padres last Monday night. It was a doubly troubling game.

First the Padres — who we decided to root for that night — lost, which was a bummer. Worse: Jason Marquis pitched really well, which has fooled Carlo into thinking Jason Marquis is a superstar. Really, he has not shut up about Jason Marquis for a week. Those two things aside it was a great game. Both of the kids made it through all nine innings, cheered when appropriate, yelled at umpires when appropriate and ate the living crap out of ballpark food.

Back in Ohio late last week, I spent the weekend in Cincinnati with the girlfriend and road-tripping-from-New York- friend Katie for Friday and Saturday’s Reds-Twins games. The games themselves were mixed bags, but the trip was an outrageous success because we got Sean Casey Bobbleheads, fried Kool-Aid and hot dogs with carrots, cucumber, cilantro, and sriracha sauce. All of those things are, in reality, way better than the descriptions sound.

In any event, the trip is over. I greatly appreciate all of you doing the reader contribution And That Happends last week, but as of now democracy has been suspended and we shall revert back to our usual benevolent dictatorship as far as recaps go. Unless you don’t want this stuff anymore and would prefer that we just post scores, in which case I’ll just start sleeping in more. Anyway:

Athletics 4, Giants 3: Two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the home team down 2-1 and up steps Derek Norris to slam a three-run walkoff blast. It was his first ever homer, too, so most of them are going to be a letdown after this. We should call such things “Stone Roses home runs” or “M. Night Shyamalan home runs” or something.

Padres 2, Mariners 0: The Pads found out that bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds died of cancer before the game. Then four pitchers went out and combined for a shutout. That’s a freaking tribute.

Rays 3, Phillies 2: Rays 7, Phillies 3: Cole Hamels shut the Rays out for seven innings in the first game, was lifted for Antonio Bastardo in the eighth and Bastardo walked two dudes and then gave up a homer to Carlos Pena. After the game Charlie Manuel was asked about putting in Bastardo and responded by, more or less, saying they really don’t have anyone better. And he’s right. In the nightcap Brooks Conrad hit two two-run doubles. Cliff Lee was beaten up and still has no wins. Right around the time the second game was ending, I saw this on Twitter, which is about perfect:

Yankees 6, Mets 5: On vacation and only paying vague attention to what was going on in baseball, and even I got the sense that the R.A.   Dickey vs. the Yankees hype had gotten too big. Yes, he’s having a fantastic year, but it was silly to assume he’d be able to keep up the earned-run-free streak going forever. The Yankees got to him for five last night, though the Mets fought back to get him off the hook for the loss. Robinson Cano’s eighth inning homer broke the 5-5 tie and ended up winning it for the Yankees.

Astros 7, Indians 1: Derek Lowe’s reversion to late-period Derek Lowedom continues apace, with the Indians’ starter losing again. His ERA for June: 6.44. Chris Johnson went 3 for 4 with three RBI and a homer. The Astros take the series.

Tigers 3, Pirates 2: A complete game for Justin Verlander, who gave up only five hits, though one of them was a two-run homer. After the game he said he “didn’t feel particularly great.” Guys who struggle just to make it through five innings probably love hearing that sort of thing.

Angels 5, Dodgers 3: The Angels have won 13 of 18 from the Dodgers. They’re getting so bored with this “rivalry” that they’re letting punchless dudes like Peter Bourjos hit two-run homers.

Cardinals 11, Royals 8: St. Louis scored 30 runs on 41 hits in this three game series. It was the biggest beating Missouri has seen since the Centralia Massacre. Oooh … sorry. Too soon?

Marlins 9, Blue Jays 0: The Feesh end a six-game skid. Mark Buehrle’s win makes him the winningest pitcher in interleague history. Which, based on the way some of you feel about interleague play, is sort of like being the top Edsel salesman of 1959.

Twins 4, Reds 3: Figures the one game of this series that I didn’t see in person was the most exciting. Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the top of the ninth to bring the Twins back from a 3-2 deficit. Chapman is in a major funk, going 0-4 with three blown saves and an 11.37 ERA in his last seven games. This slide started at almost the exact time the heat started to die down regarding his encounters with the bunco squad. To get back to relief ace form, Chapman clearly must start some new scams and grifts.

White Sox 1, Brewers 0: Eduardo Escobar pinch-hit for Brent Lillibridge in the tenth inning, got the walkoff hit and then Lillibridge got traded to Boston. Then on the way to Boston Lillibridge was bumped from his flight and while waiting for the next one, some dude snaked his seat at the gate. But it wasn’t all bad: this kid cried his eyes out when he learned that Lillibridge was traded away. Really.

Orioles 2, Nationals 1: The O’s are in an offensive funk, but Matt Wieters’ two-run homer was all they needed. Baltimore took two of three from the Nats.

Red Sox 9, Braves 4: Cody Ross hit two homers and drove in five. Kevin Youkilis’ last game with the Red Sox ended with a triple in the seventh and a standing ovation when he was lifted for a pinch runner. The Braves have lost nine of 13.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 1: The Snakes sweep the Cubs behind Wade Miley’s eight innings of one-run ball. Justin Upton drove in three.

Rangers 4, Rockies 2: Matt Harrison got the win and pitched five scoreless, but he had to leave early due to tightness in his lower back.

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
9 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.