Doubront settles down, earns first win since July 18

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Doubront settles down, earns first win since July 18

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It had been two months -- to the very day-- since Felix Doubront last won a start, and for a time in the third inning Tuesday night, it appeared the winless streak might stretch further.

After retiring seven of the first eight Tampa Bay Rays he faced, Doubront's control suddenly left him and he issued three straight walks, loading the bases.

When Ben Zobrist connected for a line single to center to score two runs and Evan Longoria followed with a sacrifice fly, Doubront found himself behind 3-0 with action in the bullpen.

But Doubront got Jeff Keppinger on an inning-ending groundout and retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced before leaving in the sixth.

By then, with the Red Sox' bats alive, Doubront had himself a cushy lead and was headed to a 7-5 victory, his first since July 18.

"It felt like a long time," said Doubront of the drought. "I just want to finish strong. I'm getting back my confidence. Tonight, there was just one tough inning and I handled that. That was pretty important for me."

Errant command has been an issue for Doubront in his second-half slide. In the first half of the season, through the end of June, he averaged 3.3 walks per nine innings; since then, he's averaged 5.7 walks per nine innings.

Surely that contributed to the eight winless starts.

But following a stretch of outings that saw him allow either four or five earned runs four times in five starts, Doubront began to turn the corner in his last start when he limited the New York Yankees to just two runs on four hits over 6 13 innings.

That trend continued Tuesday night -- minus the wild third.

"I think more focus," said Doubront in explaining the turnaround. "The mental part. Now, I'm (mentally) strong. In the past, I was a little bit lost (in that area). But talking to the guys and working more on the mental part has helped me."

Doubront labeled getting of the third inning "the challenge," and did so with a sense that his lineup -- which had been blanked over the first three innings -- would come back.

"I wasn't thinking about (the jam),'' he said. "I was just pitching."

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.