Middlebrooks continues to rake

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Middlebrooks continues to rake

BOSTON The Will Middlebrooks express just keeps steaming along. The rookie went 3-for-4, with a run scored and two RBI, falling a triple shy of the cycle in Saturdays 8-4 win over the Braves.

His performance raised his average from .319 to .331.

He had a good game tonight and like all good hitters hes seeing the ball well right now. manager Bobby Valentine said. Hes taking the low breaking ball and spitting out most of the time or if he swings at it the first time, he takes it the next time he sees it. Hes getting the ball in the zone and hitting it hard. Good game tonight.

That has not been a novelty of late for Middlebrooks.

His solo home run, leading off the third, was his third in the last four games and ninth of the season. He has at least one RBI, with a total of 11, in six of his last seven games and has an extra-base hit in his of his last five games, going 10-for-14 (.714) with three doubles, three home runs, and nine RBI in that stretch.

I feel really comfortable seeing it early and seeing it long, said Middlebrooks, who wasnt aware he had just missed hitting for the cycle until informed of it after the game.

Just getting good pitches to hit and not missing them.

Middlebrooks was called up May 2, to take the spot of Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the disabled list that day with a lower back strain. Since May 23, Middlebrooks has reached base safely in 20 of 21 games, batting .385 (25-for-65) with four walks, getting hit by pitches twice.

He is the first American League player with 33 RBI in his first 40 games since Californias Wally Joyner with 38 in 1986. It is the most RBI to start a Red Sox career since Walt Dropos 34 in his first 40 games from 1949-1950.

Middlebrooks nine home runs are the most by a Boston batter in his first 40 major league games in the last 25 years.

While each of those stats are impressive, just as impressive is the fact that hes been able to do this while being caught, if tangentially, in the controversy over third base playing time and the speculation over Youkilis being traded.

"I dont care, I really dont, he said. Im here to play baseball. Im not here to be an analyst. Ill let you the media do your job and Ill do mine.

Asked if he had envisioned performing this well in the big leagues, he replied:

"I wanted to get here that was my main goal. Im happy with it. Really didnt have any expectations."

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.