Adrian Gonzalez has averaged a homer every 25.1 at-bats in his year and a quarter with the Dodgers. In Wednesday’s Game 5 victory, he hit his second and third in 35 postseason at-bats.
Carl Crawford hit a total of six homers in 435 at-bats in his first year with the Dodgers. On Wednesday, he hit his fourth in 39 postseason at-bats.
It was supposed to be Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig supplying the Dodgers with most of their power this month, but while Ramirez came up big in the NLDS, it’s been Gonzalez, Crawford and Juan Uribe combining for nine of their 11 homers overall. Ramirez hit his lone bomb in Game 2 against the Braves. A.J. Ellis hit the remaining homer in today’s Game 5.
Crawford is the bigger surprise. Of his six homers on the season, four game in April. He hit one in his final 328 regular-season at-bats. But Crawford had shown power in the postseason before, hitting two homers for the Rays in the World Series loss to the Phillies in 2008. Overall, he has seven homers in 122 postseason at-bats, or one every 17.4 at-bats. In the regular season, he’s hit a total of 124 homers in 6,050 at-bats, or one every 48.8 at-bats.
Both Gonzalez and Crawford were, of course, picked up from the Red Sox in last summer’s megadeal, with the Dodgers also getting Josh Beckett and Nick Punto in return for salary relief and prospects. It will be the go-to narrative if the Dodgers and Red Sox happen to advance to the World Series from here. The Red Sox have no one they acquired in the trade on their postseason roster, but they used all that freed up cash to sign free agents like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes . The Dodgers didn’t get outstanding seasons from either Gonzalez or Crawford, but both were solid enough and they’re making a bigger impact now. Neither team has any regrets at this point.
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.
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.