Another mixed bag for Dice-K

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Another mixed bag for Dice-K

CHICAGO -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's second start was a lot like his first -- not particularly bad, but not good enough to win, either.

Matsuzaka went six innings Friday at Wrigley Field and gave up three runs -- two in the first inning -- on four hits. Since the Red Sox were shut out by Ryan Dempster, that outing wasn't nearly good enough.

One aspect of Matsuzaka's game actually regressed on Friday: his command. After walking one in his first start against Washington last weekend, he walked three Friday -- all in the first inning.

Those walks loaded the bases and Steve Clevenger's line single to left scored two runs.

"I really struggled with my command early on,'' said Matsuzaka through an interpeter. "It was probably something small that needed adjustment and it took a long time, longer than I wanted, to make the adjustment.''

Whatever the correction was, Matsuzaka seemed to find it. After a triple, hit batsman and a run-scoring single in the second inning, Matsuzaka went on to retire 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced.

"I was able to battle through and pitch,'' noted Matsuzaka, "so I'd say that was a step up from my previous start.''

With just two starts at the big league level since coming back from last summer's Tommy John surgery, Matsuzaka is fine physically. Still, there are areas on which he needs to work.

"Throwing-wise, I'm throwing without any worries,'' he said. "But the competition aspect of pitching needed some improvement today and continues to need improvement in my upcoming starts.''

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.