Aroldis Chapman and Dusty Baker

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 5, Angels 4: Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton finally upped their averages north of .000 — each went 1 for 4 and drove in a couple — but not enough to matter. Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the ninth against the top of the order. Mike Trout singled but then he got Aybar — who sacrificed — Pujols and Hamilton, with his velocity going up a couple miles per hour each pitch. It was a nice closing job, but boy howdy I’d like to see him start a game at 93 and slowly crank it up to 99, Verlander-style, someday.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: Pettitte-to-Mariano. If you’re struggling, go back to what works. This has worked for about 17 years or so. In other news, the Yankees and Red Sox played a game against each other that lasted two hours and thirty eight minutes. I didn’t think such things were possible, but it actually happened.

Royals 3, White Sox 1: An impressive outing from Jeremy Guthrie (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 9K). Then the hard-throwers in the bullpen did their thing for three innings. This is what the Royals pretty much drew up happening every game this season. It won’t, but this is what success looks like for this team.

Twins 8, Tigers 2: We all laughed a bit yesterday afternoon when the Tigers signed Jose Valverde. But after watching Brayan Villareal stink up the joint to the tune of fives runs in two-thirds on an inning, it’s not as if Valverde would be the worst part of this bullpen. At the moment the entire bullpen is the worst part of the bullpen.

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: I watched way more of this one than the Angels-Reds game which was on TV at the same time. Guess I just wanted to see teams I’ll see less of over the course of the year. Travis Wood was good and Carlos Marmol was his usual shaky self. My favorite thing was the Pirates, though. In the seventh inning, with the Cubs up 1-0, Clint Hurdle had his cleanup hitter bunt with a fast runner on second and no one out. The cleanup hitter could not get the bunt down and strikes out. The next two batters pop out and strike out. Oh, and the fast runner stole third in the meantime. Maybe if they had one more out. Maybe if Hurdle put a guy in the cleanup spot that he trusted to, you know, clean up.

Padres 2, Mets 1: Eric Stults and five relievers combined for 14 strikeouts and kept the Mets scoreless until the ninth. If you had New York at 162-0, well, sorry.

Nationals 6, Marlins 1: I suppose if you had the Marlins at 0-162 that you still have a lot of life in that proposition. But hey, at least they finally scored a run. The Nats’ 2-3-4 hitters combined to drive in all six of the team’s runs. I suppose Werth, Harper and Zimmerman are gonna do that a lot.

Orioles 6, Rays 3: Chris Davis, have yourself an Opening Week. He homered for the third straight day and drove on four. For the series he went 7 of 11 with three homers, three doubles and 11 RBI. And if we’re gonna mention the Nats’ 2-3-4, we should mention the O’s 3-4-5. In taking two of three from Tampa Bay they went 17 for 37 with four homers, six doubles, 13 runs scored and 15 RBI.

Phillies 2, Braves 0: Cliff Lee dominated, allowing only two hits — both singles — and striking out eight. Last year Cliff Lee didn’t win his first game until the fourth of July. Speaking of wins, this was the first time in 24 tries that the Braves lost a Kris Medlen start. Which, to be honest, makes me happy in some strange way. Seemed like that streak — which stretched over years, a Tommy John surgery and a lot of improbable stuff — was giving people a sense that this kid was somehow magical rather than simply good and fortunate. And from there it’s a short slide to people thinking pitcher wins matter. If you want to see how awful it is when people think that, just ask folks if they think Cliff Lee is still an ace. Those poor deluded sods who say “no” are basing this on his win total last year.

Athletics 8, Mariners 2: L.A. Woman-era Jim Morrison hit a homer and drove in four runs for Oakland. Wait, sorry. That was Josh Reddick. Michael Morse homered for the third straight day.

Blue Jays 10, Indians 8: J.P. Arencibia hit two homers. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista did too. But some bad news: Bautista left the game early with a twisted ankle. Probably not serious, but Toronto needs him healthy all year.

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.