Saltalamacchia savors first walk-off homer

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Saltalamacchia savors first walk-off homer

BOSTON -- It's a feeling that Jarrod Saltalamacchia will never forget.

Bottom of the ninth, down one run, and pinch-hitting for Marlon Byrd. The tying run was on second, with one out. And it was an 0-1 count against a closer in Fernando Rodney who hadn't blown a save or allowed a home run all season.

So what did Saltalamacchia do? He jacked a 96-mph fastball over the Red Sox bullpen for a two-run walk-off home run, just 24 hours after he prevented Luke Scott from charging the mound.

On Friday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox' and Tampa Bay Rays' dugouts and bullpens emptied after Franklin Morales hit Scott with a pitch, causing a pile of players surrounding home plate.

That pile was somewhat different on Saturday night, as Red Sox players embraced the game's hero.

"It was funny," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after his team's dramatic 3-2 win on Saturday night, "I looked at Tim Bogar when the inning started and I said, 'We haven't had a walk-off all year.' And he said, 'It's a great day for it, let's do it.' And Salty did.

"It really looked great," added Valentine. "We saw that scene before, just, this was a happy scene. And last night might have brought them together, and maybe we'll have that reunion a few times at home plate this year."

It marked Saltalamacchia's first-career walk-off home run. He's also the first Red Sox pinch-hitter to hit a walk-off home run since Wes Chamberlain in 1995.

"I was just looking for a fastball," said Saltalamacchia, who has three homers and six RBI in his last six games. "I was able to get a fastball down the middle of the plate and do something with it.

"Tonight was awesome. I met the shredder for the first time. It was just great. We've been working so hard, and this team's so close, that it was just an awesome feeling to come into home plate with those guys just pumped up."

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.