Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

70 Comments

Red Sox 9, Athletics 6: Just yesterday Mike Napoli was named player of the week for last week. He’s making a bid for a repeat now, hitting a grand slam and driving in five runs here. Overall he has 25 RBI in 19 games.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: Chris Tillman had a one hitter into the seventh. Nick Markakis walked it off with an RBI single which was made possible by Aaron Loup hitting a guy and then Munenori Kawasaki throwing the ball away on what should have been out number three.

Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Practically the whole AP game story for this one was recapping game 5 of last year’s NLDS. Which, sure, I suppose provides a nice story and everything, but isn’t exactly insightful about today. For today know that Shelby Miller struck out eight in six and two-thirds and that while Drew Storen handled the ninth inning again, he didn’t contribute to the loss.

Rays 5, Yankees 1: Matt Moore is now 4-0 after giving up one run on two hits and fanning nine in eight innings. Two homers for Ryan Roberts.

Phillies 3, Pirates 2: Johnathan Pettibone made his MLB debut and it was a good one: two runs on six hits and striking out six in five and a third. He also reached on a walk and came around to score.

Mariners 7,  Astros 1: It’s almost unfair to make Houston face King Felix. Hernandez struck out nine in six shutout innings and, for once, got some run support in the form of homers from Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero. It was Hernandez’s 100th career win. If he got seven runs to work with more often he’d have, like, [does calculations on the back of an envelope] 3,394 wins.

Reds 5, Cubs 4: This one went 13 innings an lasted four and a half hours. I’m pretty sure there are committees within the United Nations who are working diligently to eliminate 13-inning Cubs games from the world on a human rights basis, but so far their work has been stymied by Real Politik concerns and obstructionism in the Security Council. The Cubs actually had a 4-2 lead in the 13th. Unfortunately the rules of baseball required them to try to close out the win in the ninth, where Michael Bowden coughed up three runs on four hits including a Jay Bruce RBI double.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: The White Sox are reeling, losers of ten of 13. Justin Masterson walked a few too many guys but picked up his fourth win. Two of them have come against the pale hose.

Brewers 7, Padres 1: Not exactly thrilled with my pick of the Padres as the surprising team in the NL West this year.  Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt hit homers and the Brewers won their eighth in a row. Kyle Lohse pitched well but injured his pinkie finger while batting. Commence your DH/anti-DH arguing … now.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 4: Brandon Belt after the game: “I’m pretty lightheaded and my kidneys hurt right now.”  Uh oh! [looks at game story]. Oh, OK, it’s just because his teammates mobbed him during the walkoff celebration. Now if he’d only hit when he started.

Rangers 7, Angels 6: A.J. Pierzynski with a homer in the ninth which proved to be the winning run. Adrian Beltre hit a drive that fell just short of the wall before that. Safe to say that Ernesto Frieri wasn’t fooling anyone.

Braves vs. Rockies: POSTPONED: My eyes are blind but I can see. The snowflakes glisten on the trees. The sun no longer sets me free. I feel the snowflakes freezing me. Let the winter sun shine on. Let me feel the frost of dawn. Fill my dreams of flakes of snow. Soon I’ll feel the chilling glow.

Marlins vs. Twins: POSTPONED: There is no end to what we can do together. There is no end. The willow turns his back on inclement weather. We can do it, just me and you.

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.