Picard: Masterson now Cleveland's 'main guy'

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Picard: Masterson now Cleveland's 'main guy'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Red Sox got to see the debut of their newest startingpitcher in Erik Bedard on Thursday night at Fenway Park. On the other side wasa familiar face, old friend Justin Masterson.

While the Red Sox acquired Bedard from Seattle in a deadlinetrade over the weekend, Masterson knows what its like to be on the other endof that type of trade. He was one of the young players sent to Cleveland at thetrade deadline in 2009, which in return, sent All-Star catcher Victor Martinezto Boston.

Two years later, Masterson faced his old organization forthe fourth time on Thursday night. And he didnt disappoint, picking up hisninth win of the season while allowing three runs on five hits and one walk,and striking out nine batters in six innings of work.

Hes now 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts against the RedSox, since being traded for a player thats not even in Boston anymore.

According to Indians manager Manny Acta, Masterson is theirhorse.

Right now, our main guy has been Justin Masterson, saidActa after Clevelands 7-3 win over Boston to split the four-game series. Hesa guy that from now on, and for a while now, we have to try to keep him on thefive days routine, because hes the guy that we want to see out there everyfive days.

Having Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin back-to-back every week,it gives us an opportunity not to get in many lengthy types of slumps.

Masterson has been on anything but a slump in recentoutings. He just wasnt getting the offense to hold up their end of thebargain.

Prior to Thursday nights win, Masterson was 0-1 in his lastthree starts. But in those 22.2 innings, he only allowed three earned runstotal. And not even one win to show for it.

The offense Masterson needed showed up on Thursday night against ateam that the Indians may very well face in the postseason. And after giving uptwo early runs in the first inning, Masterson did his job and shut the doorwhile throwing 118 pitches, with his final pitch of the night being a 94-mphheater that blew by his former catcher Jason Varitek to get out of a jam andend the sixth inning.

He even recorded four strikeouts in the second inning,thanks to Josh Reddick running out a wild pitch after a swing-and-miss strikethree. Being able to tie the Major League record for strikeouts in a singleinning pretty much signified the type of roll Masterson is on as of late.

He was overpowering most of the time, said Acta. Thepitch count kind of hurt him a little bit because of all the strike outs. With thatbeing said, he really stepped it up for us out there.

Hes been very consistent. His velocitys up from pitch oneuntil the last one. And hes pretty confident right now. He doesnt go throughthat many breaking pitches a game, and everybody knows it. Hes tough to hitwhen hes sinking that ball, and elevating that four-seam fastball at 96, 97.

Masterson is clearly a different pitcher now, than when hewas trying to establish his role in Boston as a minor-league call-up. Even RedSox manager Terry Francona can see the glaring differences.

Hes good, said Francona. And we see his best. Im surehe enjoys pitching against us. Hes really good. The things he needed to workon when he was a young pitcher, getting into lefties and everything, he can dothat now. Hes not timid throwing it in. He can elevate when he wants to. Hesimpressive.

Masterson believes his recent dominance is a result ofsomething as simple as not trying to do too much, or as he calls it, dont tryto be overly nasty.

Just the ability to really get ahead, and to understandmyself as a pitcher, said Masterson. Its just going out there and makingquality pitches, and thats OK. You dont have to be overly nasty, but you haveto make quality pitches in the zone, get ahead, and make guys swing at pitchesthat theyre not usually apt to swing at, and it helps you out a lot.

Whatever it is, its working. And not just because it wasagainst the organization that traded him away.

Theyre a great team, they have a great offense, saidMasterson. Its always nice to get a quality win against them. Its great togo out there and put together a decent outing, and really be able to set up ourteam for a chance to win.

Hes loved over there, said Acta. Hes loved over here,and well respected. Theres no resentment whatsoever. I think he goes out everyfive days and tries to beat everybody. They love him over there too.

Not as much as if he were pitching like that for the Red Sox.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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.