San Francisco Giants v Pittsburgh Pirates

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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We have reached the All-Star break. Which means that this is the last And That Happened for a week. Unless there’s a temporal anomaly or something, which has been known to happen …

Pirates 13, Giants 2: Andrew McCutchen was added to the Home Run Derby the other day. He got some early practice yesterday, smacking two dingers. If there is any justice in the world, the All-Star Game will introduce this guy to a lot of casual fans who have no freakin’ idea that one of the best players in baseball is a Pittsburgh Pirate. Also: more Tim LOLcecum.

Cubs 7, Mets 0: Ryan Dempster came off the DL and picked up right where he left off: keeping the opposition scoreless. With five innings of shutout ball here — they’re taking it easy on him to preserve his trade value, er, I’m sorry, I mean his health — he runs his streak to 27 straight innings.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 1: Here come the Diamondbacks. They took three of four from L.A. to move to within four games. Trevor Bauer was way more efficient in his third big league start and wound up throwing six scoreless. I guess it’s easier to pound the strike zone when you know the other team doesn’t have anyone who can make you pay for it if you miss.

Reds 4, Padres 2: A road trip that started pretty crappily — it’s an adverb; look it up — ended much betterly for the Reds, as they took three straight from the Padres to keep pace with the Pirates in the central.

Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Walkoff RBI double for Josh Reddick in the 13th. Probably a good time for people who don’t follow Oakland closely to acknowledge that (a) Reddick, who has 20 jacks in the first half, is pretty darn good; and (b) Oakland is at .500 at the break, which no one would have guessed before the season started. Sure, they’re still in third place which is where everyone guessed they’d be, but it’s a much more respectable, enjoyable-to-watch third place than predicted.

Angels 6, Orioles 0: A spot start for Brad “not the manager of the Astros” Mills and all he does is throw five shutout innings and get homers from Trout, Pujols, Trumbo and Aybar for support. Gee, pitching is easy!

Cardinals 5, Marlins 4: You’re not gonna believe this, but Heath Bell poured kerosene on a ninth inning. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Blue Jays 11, White Sox 9: The Chisox lose their five game winning streak after the Jays launch four homers. Worse: White Sox pitchers walked nine.

Brewers 5, Astros 3: Zack Greinke started on Saturday,  on Sunday and will get the first start after the All-Star break, making him the first dude to start three of his team’s games since 1917. He lost the first one and was saved in the second despite only going three innings. Maybe he’ll actually stick around for the fourth inning in his third go-around.

Tigers 7, Royals 1: The sweep for Detroit. Delmon Young has homered in four straight games. Maybe the Tigers are finally turning the corner. I know people say that every time they win a couple of games, but eventually you figure it’ll be true.

Braves 4, Phillies 3: The Braves sweep the reeling Phillies. Like Delmon Young, Brian McCann has homered in four straight. And maybe like the Tigers, the Braves’ four-game winning streak is a sign that their sluggishness is nearing an end. Philly, in contrast, has lost 10 of 11.

Rockies 4, Nationals 3: Washington was up 3-1 entering the eighth against the lowly Rockies. That’s usually a win, but Sean Burnett gave up two runs in the eighth with the help of a Mike Gonzalez wild pitch and Tyler Clippard sealed the deal in the ninth.

Rays 7, Indians 6: Another blown save, this one from Chris Perez. That breaks a string of 24 straight for him, dating back to his last blown save on Opening Day. Ben Zobrist’s RBI single was the final blow.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 3: Andruw Jones lookes at Brian McCann and Delmon Young’s four homers in four games and says “meh.” Jones has four homers in three games. The Yanks take three of four from the Sox and show them who remains the beast of the east.

Rangers 4, Twins 3: Minnesota blows a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Total team effort there thanks to a throwing error by Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins being as hitable as a pitching machine. Michael Young delivered the tying run with an RBI single and Ian Kinsler drove in the winner in the 13th.

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.