Lester the lone bright spot in loss to Royals

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Lester the lone bright spot in loss to Royals

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON With the score tied, one out, and a runner on first base in the sixth inning Monday night against the Royals, Jon Lester walked off the mound to a standing ovation. He would not get a decision or a quality start just the seventh time in his 19 starts he has failed to do so this season. But the Fenway Park crowd was happy to see the left-hander back on the mound for the first time since July 5.

In that game, against the Blue Jays at Fenway, Lester walked off the mound after four no-hit innings. But a left latissimus strain had sidelined him until Monday night.

By the time the Sox lost to the Royals, 3-1, after 14 innings at 1:59 a.m., Lesters outing had been long done. He went 5 13 innings against the Royals, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He did not issue his first walk until the fifth inning, when Alcides Escobar led off with a five-pitch pass.

Before the game manager Terry Francona said Lester would be limited to 80-85 pitches. But Lester threw 89 pitches (55 for strikes, for a 62 percent strike rate), departing after giving up a two hits and a walk to lead off the sixth.

The Sox spotted Lester a slim one-run lead in the second, when Carl Crawford scored on Josh Reddicks double. Lester kept Kansas City off the scoreboard until the sixth.

Melky Cabrera, who is now 9-for-21 (.429, after going 2-for-3 Monday) against Lester, led off the inning with single to left and scored on Billy Butlers double to left. Butler was thrown out trying to third on the throw. After Eric Hosmer walked, Lester was done.

I thought he was very good, said Francona. That was very encouraging. He stayed with all his pitches. It was very good to see.

The lone run snapped a season-long 16-inning scoreless streak for Lester, including consecutive scoreless outings on June 30 at Philadelphia, when he went seven innings without allowing a run, and July 5 against Toronto. He has just one longer streak in his career, when he went 17 innings without allowing a run from Sept. 1 Sept. 13, 2009.

Lester, although satisfied with his outing, could feel the effects of the down time.

I felt good, he said. But I felt like I hadnt pitched in two weeks. As far as the lat goes, felt no pain, felt normal.

I was tired. You cant simulate a big league baseball game. I felt good for the first 4 , 5 innings. A little tired at the end. Build off this one. I should be fine for my next start.

Lester is 10-4 with a 3.23 ERA this season. He has had tremendous success against the Royals, going 4-1 with a 1.28 ERA in six career starts against. At Fenway Park, he is 4-0 with a 0.48 ERA against Kansas City, including his no-hitter on May 19, 2008. IN five of his six career outings, he has allowed one or no run. He has allowed one or no run in five straight games at Fenway, the second-longest streak by a Sox starter behind Roger Clemens, who went six starts from April 21, 1987 Aug. 16, 1991.

Lester has the best ERA against the Royals among pitchers with at least five starts since 2006, and second-best all-time behind Chad Ogeas 1.08.

Despite the loss, his record remains intact against the Royals. But this one was hard to take.

It stinks, he said. Wait around 2 hours for a five-hour baseball game. These ones arent fun.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

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.