Notes: McDonald hopes homer gets him going

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Notes: McDonald hopes homer gets him going

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
HOUSTON -- Last year was magical for Darnell McDonald.

This year has been more like a nightmare.

McDonald hasn't gotten a lot of playing opportunities, and when he has, he hasn't done much with them. Coming into Saturday's game, he was hitting a paltry .115 with an equally low slugging percentage of .192.

One swing isn't going to turn his season around, but the three-run homer McDonald cranked in the Red Sox' four-run seventh may at least be a start.

"It felt real good,'' said McDonald after the Red Sox bashed Houston 10-4. "I know things are going to turn around for me. I've been working hard and I've been feeling good at the plate. I just haven't been getting results. It feels good to get rewarded with the home run.

"But the main thing is getting something positive going and keeping the same approach -- trying to go up there and give my team a quality at-bat. It's a long season and it's a humbling game. Hopefully, this will get me going.''

Before the game, Terry Francona said he thought about going with the much hotter Josh Reddick, but ultimately decided on McDonald because he hits righthanded -- the Astros started lefty J.A. Happ -- and because "I want to get Darnell hot. He spent all that time behind (Mike Cameron) and didn't get at-bats. Then he goes and gets his rehab at Triple A and swung the bat great. Then he came back here and looked like he was going to swing the bat great and kind of went the other way. I want to get him going a little bit... I really do want Mac to face some of these lefties because of what he can do and it gives us some balance on our bench."

Now that Mike Cameron has been designated for assignment, McDonald is currently the only righthanded-hitting outfielder the Sox have. Now would be a good time to make his claim for more playing time.

"That's the same swing Darnell had last year,'' said Francona.

McDonald has been taking extra hitting with hitting coach Dave Magadan and trying to improve his timing, especially on fastballs.

"I want to use today as something to build on,' said McDonald.

Andrew Miller's third start since being promoted was another good one: six innings, seven hits allowed, two runs against.

Miller had something of a rocky first inning with the Astros bashing out three hits right off the top, but he limited the damage to a single run and made adjustments.

"It was a tough first inning,'' said Francona. "It looked like he didn't have a ton of velocity and they hit some balls hard. But we got out of it with one and pitched.''

"The way things started,'' said Miller, "it was certainly nice to escape with limited damage and be able to get on a roll after that.''

In six innings, Miller got three double-play balls, including two to end innings.

"I kept the ball down and mixed it up,'' said Miller. "I think we got one on a changeup, some on the fastball. I think keeping the hitters off-balance is important and were were able to do that today.''

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.