Sox bullpen rounding into form

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Sox bullpen rounding into form

CHICAGO -- A week ago, the Red Sox bullpen was the laughing stock of baseball, having blown an eight-run lead and compiling an ERA over 8.00.

But very quickly, the bullpen has turned around.

On Saturday night, three Red Sox relievers -- Franklin Morales, Vicente Padilla and Alfredo Aceves -- combined to get the final six outs and lock down Jon Lester's 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The win was the sixth straight for the Sox -- evening their record at 10-10 -- and in that stretch, Red Sox relievers have allowed just one earned run over 15 23 innings for a microscopic 0.57 ERA.

"They're coming together,'' declared manager Bobby Valentine. "You play the season and build the little parts of your team and I think the bullpen is coming together nicely.''

Aceves, who loaded the bases in Minnesota Wednesday night before closing out a one-run lead, had a much easier time of it Saturday, returning the White Sox in order in the ninth on two groundouts and a strikeout.

He has five saves in seven opportunities.

"We talked to him and told him that he doesn't always have to throw it 97 mph,'' said Valentine. "Tonight, he threw some very effective fastballs at 93-94 mph and still had the 97 mph. He pitched. He got that final strikeout on a changeup.''

Morales, who allowed a single in between a popup and strikeout, is now unscored upon in his last 22 road games, dating back to June 28, 2011. That's a club record for a lefty pitcher and the longest road scoreless streak since Jonathan Papelbon stitched together 25 games from Sept. 23, 2005 through July 8, 2006.

Valentine wanted the righty-on-righty matchup, so he summoned Padilla for Paul Konerko (walk) and Alex Rios (groundout).

The rebound for the relievers doesn't surprise the team's No. 1 catcher.

"That's what we have down there,'' said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "That's a tough bullpen. It was only a matter of time before those guys were going to get comfortable and show what they can do.''

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.