Bryce Harper

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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In addition to the box scores, I also watched Bill Clinton last night. No matter what your politics, I hope we can agree that Clinton makes everyone want to listen to their “Siamese Dream” cassette and drive around in their Chevy Cavalier, waiting for their pager to blow up.  Anyway:

Nationals 9, Cubs 1: Gio Gonzalez tossed seven three-hit shutout innings and the Nats smacked six home runs. Two for Bryce Harper and one for the incandescent Adam LaRoche. There hasn’t been scoring like this in Washington since Clinton left office.

Braves 1, Rockies 0: Mike Minor took a no hitter into the seventh, but gave up a hit on his first pitch of that innings. People on Twitter blamed me for jinxing it. Whatever. I want to gamble or play games of skill with these people who believe in such sorcery.

Brewers 8, Marlins 5: The season is starting to become a blur to me. As I sit here and type this right now, I am convinced that there has been a Brewers-Marlins game end in the score 8-5 every night for the past three weeks. I won’t check it. I’m just sure of it.

Yankees 6, Rays 4: Wait, I was convinced after reading all of the tabloids yesterday that the Yankees were never going to win again. What happened? Three RBI for Russell Martin and, while it wasn’t Hiroki Kuroda’s best start, he continues to be the defacto ace of the staff in the second half.

Pirates 6, Astros 3: Brock Holt — Brock Holt! — had two RBIs. The Pirates are now one and a half games back of the Cardinals for the wild card.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4:  Rajai Davis homered and had three RBIs to help the Jays avoid the sweep. Now the Orioles go home for four against the Yankees and three against the Rays.

Rangers 7, Royals 6: Homers from Adrian Beltre and Michael Young and Ryan Dempster struck out eight over six innings.

Mets 6, Cardinals 2: R.A. Dickey won his 18th on his charge to 20 and the Cy Young award and Ike Davis had a three-run bomb. Adam Wainwright, in contrast, was a better hitter than pitcher yesterday. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, but hit a home run.

White Sox 6, Twins 2: Alex Rios hit two homers — one a grand slam — and drove in six. And a day after the Twins erupted for 18, Jake Peavy restored order.

Tigers 7, Indians 1: But Detroit keeps pace behind homers from Cabrera and Fielder. Now the Tigers have a ten game road trip which I do not think it is hyperbole to say will determine the outcome of the season for them.

Phillies 6, Reds 2Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run and Chase Utley hit a two-run bomb, which was more than enough for Roy Halladay, who allowed one run in seven and a third. Joey Votto returned and went 2 for 3 with a walk.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter drove in three and the Angels swept Oakland, helping put themselves back in the wild card race. The result, however, is way less important than the health of Brandon McCarthy who took a liner off his head. He appears to be doing OK, thankfully.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 2: Trevor Cahill took a no-hitter into the seventh. Chris Johnson doubled, tripled and drove in two. There was the threat of fisticuffsmanship in the eighth when John McDonald ran into Pablo Sandoval on a play at third without sliding, but cooler heads prevailed.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. couldn’t take advantage of the San Francisco loss, thanks in part to a great Cameron Maybin play, robbing Matt Kemp of a home run.  Now the Dodgers face the Giants for three this weekend in San Francisco. Moving time, Dodgers.

Mariners 2, Red Sox 1: With this win, Seattle matches their win total from 2011 with 24 games left to play. Kevin Millwood allowed one run over six before Eric Wedge went expanded rosters bullpen crazy. Dustin Ackley hit a two run single.

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.