McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers' aggressiveness evens it up

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McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers' aggressiveness evens it up

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- With the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sitting out this postseason, the Texas Rangers, who replaced them as American League West champions, are taking their place in another way.

Like the Angels, the Rangers are hyper-aggressive. And like the Angels, the Rangers are finding that carries with it some risk.

Sometimes it pays big dividends, as it did in Game Five of the ALDS against Tampa Bay. The Rangers managed to score the first two runs of that series-deciding game by sending baserunners from second base on infield groundouts.

So it was in the first inning Saturday when the Rangers evened the ALCS with a 7-2 stomping of the New York Yankees.

Shortstop Elvis Andrus reached on an infield single, took second on a wild pitch, swiped third and then, in tandem with Josh Hamilton (walk), executed a double-steal, giving the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead.

That sort of aggressiveness was critical for the home team, which had a crushing loss the night before. It made a statement that they wouldn't retreat from their trademark style, even after Ian Kinsler has been picked off first in the ninth inning Friday night, representing the potential tying run against Mariano Rivera.

There's a double-edge that comes with playing that gambling, occasionally reckless style. On occasion, it can backfire. The Angels discovered that in the 2008 ALDS against the Red Sox when a botched squeeze at Fenway ran them right out of the postseason.

But the Rangers made a conscious effort to continue playing the way they had all year, when they finished fifth in the league in steals and finished first in the American League in going from first-to-third.

"It's a big part of our game,'' said veteran infielder Michael Young. "We're going to find a way to push the envelope.''

They had won their division, beaten the A.L. team with the best record in the first round and led the defending world champs for seven innings Friday night.

They weren't going to change. In fact, they found it odd that anyone believed they might scale back their aggressiveness.

"That's the way we've played all year,'' said Andrus. "We know what we need to do on the bases. If you put extra pressure on the pitcher, extra pressure on the catcher and the defense, it can be hard (on them). That's what we're doing and it did a lot of good for us.''

Andrus was tipped by third-base coach Dave Anderson that Hamilton was looking to run. When the shortstop saw Jorge Posada throw down to second to nab Hamilton, he broke for the plate.

It was the only run of the inning, but it set the tone for the game. The Rangers would not back down, even after Kinsler was caught Friday night, even after a demoralizing, late-inning setback.

If a single play leading to a single run could make a statement, this was it.

"It's just a play that adds energy and gets us off on the right foot,'' said David Murphy, the former Red Sox outfielder who later contributed a solo homer and a run-scoring double.

"That's the kind of game we play,'' shrugged manager Ron Washington, who seemed surprised that anyone might be surprised the Rangers maintained their aggressiveness.

More than establishing their game, the double steal helped put the disappointment of Friday behind them. Even with the short turnaround time, the Rangers indicated they were not suffering from any short of day-after hangover.

"That's just the way we play,'' said Kinsler. "Honestly, no one said a word about being aggressive. We're all just aggressive. If we're going to make an error, or we're going to make a mistake, it's going to be on the aggressive side. We're not going to be timid. We're not going to be afraid.''

It helped that Texas later showed some thump, with six extra-base hits from the second through the fifth, leading to six more runs.

But the biggest run of all came in the first, when the Rangers ran like they were trying to leave Friday night behind, like they had someplace else to go.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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.