Mike Moustakas

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 11, Tigers 4: Two games, two Tigers Cy Young Award winners shelled. And with that, the Kansas City Royals are in sole possession of first place in the AL Central. This is the latest they’ve been in first place since that crazy, flukey year they had back in 2003, when they finally fell out of first place in August.

Angels 9, Indians 3: Mike Trout had two homers. He had a three-run homer in the fifth that broke a tie and a leadoff homer in the seventh for extra measure. A few weeks ago people were talking about Trout’s “down year.” Even if it was down, he was still having a great season by most people’s standards. Now, after a Trout is batting .410 over his last 22 games he has raised his average from .264 to .311 and sits at .311/.397/.610, which is a great season even by his own.

Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 5: Jonathan Lucroy hit two homers including a grand slam. Which was set up by a bunch of idiocy on the part of the Dbacks. But hey, at least no one can accuse of Kirk Gibson and his players of not Playing The Game The Right Way. That is, assuming trying to win baseball games isn’t part of Playing The Game The Right Way.

Nationals 6, Astros 5: Washington took a 6-1 lead into the top of the eighth and then weathered a four-run Houston rally to hold on. Anthony Rendon doubled twice and drove in three runs and the Nats broke their four-game losing streak.

Mariners 6, Padres 1: Homers for Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero. Montero also played first base, which is a new thing for him in the bigs. Not a bad couple of first steps back for a dude who got (a) underachieved tremendously; (b) got a drug suspension; and (c) showed up to camp after all of that in bad shape.

Reds 6, Pirates 5: Todd Frazier with a homer in the ninth to break a 5-5 tie. It was his 16th homer of the year and, at the moment anyway, he is the best offensive third baseman in the NL. He and Milwaukee’s Lucroy are the two dudes who, on first-half merit anyway, deserve to start the All-Star Game but aren’t currently leading at their positions. Maybe their big nights last night will goose the voters into giving them more love.

Phillies 5, Braves 2: The Phillies have won six of eight. They got a nice performance from Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Howard homered. Atlanta has lost seven of 11 and 13 of 21 and it’s only by the grace of God and the Nationals’ inconsistency that they aren’t buried right now.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1: You can’t count on much in this crazy world, but if you can count on anything you can count on Tanaka. The Yankees’ ace wins his 11th game after striking out ten in six innings. The only blemish was a homer to Jose Reyes on the first pitch of the game. After that: the Blue Jays couldn’t do a thing.

Marlins 6, Cubs 5: Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer. In other news, I had completely forgotten that Garrett Jones plays for the Marlins. Because, really, who watches a ton of Marlins games?

Cardinals 5, Mets 2: That’s eight of nine for the Cardinals, as Michael Wacha got some key strikeouts to get out of jams. The Mets have lost 11 of 14.

Red Sox 2, Twins 1: Phil Hughes was impressive, allowing two runs over eight, but Jon Lester allowed only one while pitching into the seventh and got some nice support from his bullpen. Also: some nice defensive support from a corner infielder playing center field.

Orioles 7, Rays 5: Chris Davis hit a grand slam that was originally called a double, but viva replay. Part of Buck Showalter’s rationale for challenging the call — which was a close one and hard for Davis himself to determine if it was gone or not — was that he heard it clang off the foul pole. Which is something that can probably only happen in the mostly empty and echoey Tropicana Field.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 2: Matt Kemp went deep and Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run shot. Ramirez also left the game in the seventh with a bruised ring finger on his right hand. X-Rays were negative. Which is positive.

White Sox 8, Giants 2: My kids wanted to watch baseball last night. By the time they were showered and in their jammies the Braves were losing 4-0 and our secondary viewing habit — the Tigers — were in an even deeper hole. So I turned on this one because my daughter asked me to watch “the best team playing a game right now.” Right after we turned it on Gordon Beckham hit a homer and the Giants started throwing the ball all around the infield. Then Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow started doing Hawk Harrelson impressions on the air which was both funny and painful. The upshot: not a great night for watching games with the kids. Probably should’ve watched the Tanaka game.

Athletics 10, Rangers 6: Derek Norris did a nice Vinnie Johnson impression last night:five RBI coming off the bench. Stephen Vogt went 3 for 3 with two RBI. Yu Darvish has lost eight straight to the A’s.

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)
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.