First Pitch: Tuesday, September 13

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First Pitch: Tuesday, September 13

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Monday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

STORM BEFORE THE CALM? Theo Epstein, for one, believes the Red Sox will pull out of this. (csnne.com) As does Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. As for me, I think the Sox are scheduled to get back on track. (csnne.com)

And now, after a night in which Red Sox Nation got a chance to catch its breath -- and turn its grateful eyes to a team that's not in freefall (csnne.com) -- we'll see if Theo, Michael and I are right.

Not everybody thinks so. Both our own Sean McAdam and the Boston Herald's John Tomase point out that virtually all areas of the team have collapsed recently. In his Nation STATion column, Bill Chuck tells us why the Sox have been a .500 team over the last six weeks (and doesn't give much hope that things are going to turn around). The main reason? Pitching. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal agrees, at least with the notion that that's where a good chunk of the blame belongs.

If that's the case, there is some good news. Josh Beckett threw off a mound Monday (csnne.com) and may soon be ready to return. And weei.com reports a reinforcement -- in the form of promising right-hander Junichi Tazawa -- is on the way.

In any case, the Blue Jays are in town. We'll find out soon enough.

TAZAWA'S NOT ALL . . . WE THINK: Many people assume that this . . .

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means Joey Gathright will be in a Red Sox uniform tonight. We shall see.

BAD MOON RISING: No good news last night, as the Yankees increased their A.L. East lead to four games by beating Felix Hernandez and the Mariners (New York Post) and the Rays pulled to within three games of the Sox in the wild-card race by beating the Orioles. (St. Petersburg Times)

MAGIC MAN: "How in the name of Kelly Shoppach are the Rays in this playoff race?" asks the Tampa Tribune's Martin Fennelly. Two words: Joe Maddon.

THAT'S CERVELLI: Another concussion has sidelined Francisco Cervelli indefinitely. (ESPN New York)

POLICE LOG: Manny Ramirez was arrested after a domestic dispute with his wife. (csnne.com)

OLD FRIENDS: Looks like the end of the line for Mike Cameron, who was released by the Marlins last night. (mlb.com)

AND FINALLY . . . When there's money involved, there's usually a solution to everything. (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)

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.