Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder falters for flailing Tigers

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While Saturday’s shutout loss was definitely a team effort, Prince Fielder’s struggles are a central reason the Tigers are now just one defeat away from losing the World Series.

Swinging at pitches off the plate, Fielder went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Game 3. He grounded into a double play his first time up. Overall, Fielder is 1-for-10 in the World Series, and he’s down to .188 with just one extra-base hits and three RBI in 48 at-bats for the postseason.

This isn’t Fielder’s first go at the postseason, so it shouldn’t be a case of the pressure getting to him. He had three homers and four doubles in 11 games as the Brewers won the NLDS and lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS last year. He also took part in the NLDS in 2008, though he had just one hit in 14 at-bats then (it was a homer).

Still, this is Fielder’s first World Series, and he has been unusually anxious at the plate. He’s seen just 30 pitches in his 11 plate appearances. It’s not like him at all.

That’s not to put it all on Fielder. Miguel Cabrera hasn’t done much, collecting two singles and two walks in three games. The Tigers have just three extra-base hits in the series, and their lone homer was Jhonny Peralta’s meaningless two-run shot in the ninth inning of Game 1, reducing the Giants’ lead from seven runs to five.

Having amassed 18 consecutive scoreless innings, the Tigers offense has wasted fine performances from Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez the last two games. The team should get another good one from Max Scherzer on Sunday, but with ace Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants, one wonders if it will make any real difference.

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.