Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

53 Comments

Today was supposed to be the first day that I posted ATH later than I used to. Really: I was going to restore life balance with this one. I watched the Braves game last night but rather than stay up another hour and a half or two hours getting most of the recaps done, I turned off the TV and computer, went upstairs, read some non-baseball related things for a bit and then went to bed at a decent hour.  I was then going to wake up at six or so, calmly and with rest write ATH, post it at eight or something, content with the knowledge that 95% of you wouldn’t mind.

Then I woke up at 4:15 AM for no damn reason.

Whatever. Maybe life balance will return tomorrow.  Anyway:

Braves 9, Phillies 2: You know, I’d take way more pleasure in the Braves pounding the Phillies if it didn’t happen against Roy Halladay, because I actually really love that guy and hate to see these struggles. Guess I’ll have to get over that too. In the meantime: Evan Gattis homered in his MLB debut, Justin Upton hit a lazy, grit-free homer — clearly not playing to the scoreboard — and Jason Heyward added one against Jonathan Papelbon, who probably would have pitched better if he had anyone to lead him.  As for Gattis: with his newly-grown beard, dude looks like Mad Dog Buzz Sawyer, I have decided. Which led me to spend a good hour during the game last night in a Georgia Championship Wrestling Wikipedia hole. Which, by the way, is one of the kinds of things that help one restore life balance.

Giants 5, Dodgers 3: Walking seven in five innings is no way to go through life, son, but I suppose if you only give up two runs and drive one in yourself on a fielder’s choice it’s OK. Homers from Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence help too. In other news, given that one of those two guys is famously zaftig and the other one is on a hardcore paleo diet, I just got about 30 seconds of giggles trying to picture them  going out after the game to celebrate their heroics and getting into a fight trying to settle on a restaurant. Are there any combination kale/areapa places near Dodger Stadium?

Rays 8, Orioles 7: Walkoff bomb for Matt Joyce, saving Fernando Rodney’s bacon after he uncharacteristically blew a lead in the top of the ninth. It was the first time he’d even allowed a run since last August 18. Joyce’s quote after the game:

“To get the first win out of the way, and to have it in dramatic fashion kind of seems to be the Rays way.”

Funny. I thought “The Rays Way” was to slam former teammates for not having winning attitudes and claim that “The Rays Way” magically sprung into being the moment you yourself made the roster. Huh.

Diamondbacks 10, Cardinals 9: Matthew did a recap here. I’ll note that the fact that the Dbacks played a 16 inning game but were still afraid to use Heath Bell again speaks volumes. In other news, the fact that this game lasted beyond 3 A.M. eastern is part of the reason I’m gonna try not to get too hung up on staying up late to get these recaps done so darn early. Unless NBC will finally honor that request I put in about transferring me to a company-paid condo in a desirable west coast location I can’t hope to keep up with the late games and do them justice. Waiting to hear back from my supervisor on this any day now.

Mets 8, Padres 4: Matt Harvey struck out ten in seven shutout innings and his teammates supplied him with three two-run homers and a couple more on top. Which, keeping in mind it’s only been a couple of games, leads one to ask startling questions. Maybe that’s why I woke up at 4:15 AM. The possibility of unexpected horrors and such.

Rockies 7, Brewers 3: Juan Nicasio got his first win in nearly a year. Wilin Rosario, Michael Cuddyer and Dexter Fowler all homered too, as the Rockies take two of three from the Brewers to start the year. Walt Weiss after the game:

“Get good starting pitching and it tends to fall into place for you.”

That should happen at least a couple dozen times for him this season.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Mark Reynolds hit the go-ahead homer in the 11th. This after Chris Perez blew the save in the ninth by surrendering a homer to Jose Bautista. I like the Indians this year and think they’ll surprise a lot of people, but Mark Reynolds and Chris Perez in key situations is gonna give Indians fans a lot of heartburn. The Jays start 0-2, putting a serious damper on that offseason title they won.

Athletics 6, Mariners 2: Tommy Milone gave up a couple of homers in the first inning but then he chilled out and pitched six shutout innings on top of that one.  Jed Lowrie went 3-for-3 with a homer a walk and three RBIs. Nate Freiman had two hits and an RBI in his major league debut, which is pretty cool.

Red Sox 7, Yankees 4: Clay Buchholz allowed one run in seven innings. Hiroki Kuroda took an early shower thanks to a Shane Victorino liner off his pitching hand. Not gonna bury the Yankees like everyone else, but their best shot to weather this early season storm of injuries and self-inflicted roster deficiencies is to get solid work from the 1-2-3 in their rotation. So far they’re 0 for 2 in that department.

Twins 3, Tigers 2: The girlfriend records a Tigers podcast each week for the Bless You Boys website. They were set to record this week’s installment last night right after this game ended. It ended with Phil Coke and the Tigers’ new quasi closer-by-committee setup blowing the game. I couldn’t hear them in the other room recording the podcast, but it took way longer than usual, so I can only assume it was to edit out all the f-bombs and bitter asides and such. If it were me, this week’s podcast would consist of me beating up an effigy of Jim Leyland as I screamed “DO NOT LET PHIL COKE PITCH TO RIGHTIES EVER, SEE?”

Pirates 3, Cubs 0: Wandy Rodriguez shut the Cubs out into the seventh inning, ending his night by getting out of a bases loaded jam with a strikeout to Brent Lillibridge with the count full. Just froze his butt. That bases loaded situation notwithstanding, the Cubs only managed two hits and that was the only time they got someone as far as third base.

Rangers 4, Astros 0: Houston was shut out for the second straight game, this time by Alexi Ogando — who struck out ten in six and a third — and four relievers who were mostly around to get some work in after not exactly needing it the past couple of games. The Astros have struck out 43 times in three games.

Nationals 3, Marlins 0: Gio Gonzalez did it all, throwing six shutout innings and hitting a homer. He was like that elephant in the old “Gone Batty” cartoon. Or maybe Bugs Bunny in “Baseball Bugs.” Hey, wait a minute. Warner Brothers was recycling cartoon plots!

White Sox 5, Royals 2: Jake Peavy threw a solid six and four Sox hit homers. The White Sox lost 12 of 18 to the Royals last year. If they had gone .500 against Kansas City they would’ve tied the Tigers for the AL Central title. So taking the first two games of the season from them probably feels pretty good.

Reds 5, Angels 4: Joey Votto drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a hot shot off Albert Pujols’ glove. Brandon Phillips hit a three-run homer. He’s the Reds’ cleanup hitter now, which is weird. But life is weird sometimes. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are a combined 0 for 15 with five strikeouts in the first two games of the season. The Angels might survive yet another slow start from Pujols and early struggles from Hamilton. One wonders if Mike Scioscia will, though. I know it’s impossibly early, but I sorta feel like he’s gonna be the first manager to get the axe this year. You don’t sign the biggest free agents in the game two years running, get bad results and avoid someone being made a scapegoat.

OK, this time I mean it: tomorrow ATH is gonna be up later. Totally seriously.

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
19 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
2 Comments

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.