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Royals' Yordano Ventura, 25, killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Royals' Yordano Ventura, 25, killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, whose electric arm and confident demeanor helped lead Kansas City to a long-awaited World Series championship in 2015, died in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic early Sunday. He was 25.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles northwest of Santo Domingo. Mateo did not say whether Ventura was driving.

Ventura is the second young star pitcher to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was among three men killed in a boating accident in September.

Also Sunday, former major league infielder Andy Marte died in a separate car accident in the Dominican Republic. Metropolitan traffic authorities said he died about 95 miles north of the capital.

With the fitting nickname of "Ace," Ventura burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

Not surprisingly, he quickly became a fan favorite as Kansas City embraced baseball once again.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Royals teammates took to Twitter to share their sorrow.

"I love you my brother. I'm in disbelief and don't know what to say. I love you ACE," first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas also expressed disbelief, tweeting: "I love you Ace. I don't know what to say other than I'm going to miss you a lot. RIP ACE."

Fans began arriving at Kauffman Stadium shortly after Ventura's death was announced, leaving flowers, hats and other mementos outside the stadium. Flags outside the ballpark also were lowered to half-staff.

Before his start in Game 6 of the 2014 World Series, Ventura paid tribute to his close friend and countryman, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, who had been killed days earlier in a car accident in the Dominican Republic at the age of 22.

Just hours after Taveras' funeral, Ventura put "RIP O.T (hash)18" on his hat and also wrote messages on his glove, cleats and the mound before throwing his first pitch. Ventura proceeded to shut out San Francisco for seven innings in a win.

"If he was still here, I would for sure be talking to him, and Oscar would be very happy for me and very proud," Ventura said after that game. "Oscar was a very humble guy and very likable, and I'm going to miss him a lot."

The Royals lost Game 7 the next day, but came back to win the World Series the next year, beating the New York Mets in five games for their first crown since 1985.

Ventura signed a $23 million, five-year deal with the Royals shortly before he started on opening day in 2015.

The right-hander went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA last season. He was suspended for nine games -- cut to eight on appeal -- after hitting Orioles star Manny Machado with a fastball, leading to a brawl.

Marte, 33, last played in the majors in 2014 with Arizona. He spent the past two years in South Korea last year.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura," players' union executive Tony Clark said. "It's never easy to lose a member of our fraternity, and there are no words to describe the feeling of losing two young men in the prime of their lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, teammates and fans throughout the United States and Latin America."

Fernandez was killed late last season when his boat crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach in the early morning hours.

It wasn't certain whether Fernandez was driving the boat when it crashed on Sept. 25. He had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, above Florida's legal limit of 0.08, according to autopsy reports released by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's Office.

Ventura wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Ventura was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time in nearly three decades. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts.

In 2015, now firmly entrenched in the rotation, Ventura helped lead Kansas City back to the World Series, pitching well in two starts against Toronto in the AL championship Series. The Royals went on to beat the Mets to win their second championship.

Not surprisingly, the Royals moved quickly to sign their burgeoning young ace to a new contract through the 2019 season that included two more options that could have kept him in Kansas City.

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura represented a true rags-to-riches story. He quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when Ventura heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy located on his picturesque island home.

Still, the odds were long that Ventura would ever make it to the big leagues. Very few players from the Dominican academies reached the pinnacle of the sport.

But over time, Ventura was able to harness one of the most electric fastballs that scouts had seen in years, and his headstrong and confident nature was essential in his rapid rise. He made his big league debut to great fanfare in 2013, allowing just one run again Cleveland in a sign of things to come.

He eventually became a cornerstone of a youth movement that included young stars such as Hosmer and Moustakas, one that carried the Royals first to respectability, then to the top of the American League -- rare heights the organization had not experienced in decades.

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Matt Barnes tossed for nearly beaning Manny Machado as Red Sox beat Orioles

Matt Barnes tossed for nearly beaning Manny Machado as Red Sox beat Orioles

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A spikes-high slide. A near beanball. Harsh talk in the clubhouse.

The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles soared to a new level over the weekend, and there's no telling what might happen when they soon meet again.

A tempestuous three-game series between these AL East foes wound up with Orioles star Manny Machado seeing a fastball sail behind his head and Matt Barnes getting ejected for throwing it Sunday in Boston's 6-2 victory.

The high, very inside pitch came two days after Machado spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with an aggressive slide.

Pedroia watched from the dugout for a second straight day with knee and ankle injuries. Machado apologized with a text message on Friday night, but that evidently wasn't the end of it.

"That's on them," Machado said. "Whatever happened today, I'm going to keep (being) me."

When Machado batted in the sixth inning, Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches down and in near the knees. Machado came up again in the eighth and Barnes' fastball whizzed behind Machado and hit his bat. The ball hit Machado and rolled foul, and plate umpire Andy Fletcher tossed Barnes.

"I would never intentionally throw at someone's head. That's kind of a line you don't cross," Barnes said.

Boston manager John Farrell -- who on Saturday called the league office to discuss about what he called "an illegal slide" by Machado -- insisted Barnes' wayward pitch was nothing more than an accident.

"He was trying to take a four-seamer in and above his hands and the pitch got away from him," Farrell said.

But Orioles first baseman Chris Davis thought the fastball was intentionally directed at Machado's head.

"I think it was completely obvious," Davis said. "I haven't seen a guy miss that bad in a while -- behind a guy's head."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter appeared reluctant to criticize the Red Sox, but said, "The courage it takes not to retaliate a lot of times in life is a lot more challenging than doing what ended up happening today."

During Farrell's argument with Fletcher, Pedroia was standing on the top step in the dugout and whistled to catch Machado's attention. He mouthed the words "It's not me," evidently trying to show he was not seeking revenge. Machado acknowledged Pedroia and later pointed to his head.

"I had nothing to do with that. That's not how you do that, man," Pedroia said afterward. "I'm sorry to him and his team. If you're going to protect guys, you do it right away."

After the game resumed, Machado hit Joe Kelly's first pitch for an RBI double to make it 6-1.

Machado ended up making the last out, hitting a popup on a pitch from Craig Kimbrel, who got his seventh save.

The Red Sox and Orioles play again May 1 at Fenway Park. Asked whether the teams will put this behind them by then, Davis said, "Honestly, if you ask anybody in here, we're already past it. We didn't agree with what happened, we didn't appreciate it but we can't let those things dwell."

Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez homered on successive pitches in a four-run first inning, and Andrew Benintendi had a career-high five hits to help Boston avert a three-game sweep.

Mitch Moreland also homered for the Red Sox, who came in with a major-league low eight home runs. All the long balls were off Kevin Gausman (1-2), who found himself in a 4-0 hole after throwing only seven pitches.

Rodriguez (1-1) allowed one hit over six innings, walking five and striking out seven. Obtained in the 2014 trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Orioles, Rodriguez is 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six career starts at Camden Yards.

Not only did the Red Sox play a second straight game without Pedroia, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval left with a sprained right knee.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Farrell says because there's still some swelling in Pedroia's knee and ankle areas, he will "go through some imaging" Monday in Boston. "At this point, it warrants a further look," Farrell said. ... LHP David Price (elbow) participated in a long-toss session Sunday and will pitch a few simulated innings at Fenway Park on Monday.

Orioles: Closer Zach Britton (forearm strain) will start throwing Monday after having his hand examined.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: After an off day Monday, Boston opens a season-high, 10-game homestand Tuesday night in a matchup with the Yankees.

Orioles: Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 5.51 ERA) goes up the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series. The Rays are 1-6 on the road.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles prospects 4/22: Chris Tillman’s rehab continues

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Homers by Mancini and Schoop carry Orioles past Red Sox 4-2

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Homers by Mancini and Schoop carry Orioles past Red Sox 4-2

BALTIMORE -- Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop homered in succession off knuckleballer Steven Wright, Jayson Aquino won his first big league start and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Baltimore will seek to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday. The Orioles have not lost a series this year and own the best record in the majors (12-4).

Aquino (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits over six innings to earn his first career victory. The 24-year-old lefty previously pitched three times in relief, all last year with Baltimore.

Mychal Givens followed with two perfect innings, Donnie Hart got two outs in the ninth and Darren O'Day finished for his first save.

Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for the Red Sox, who were without injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Wright (1-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. Just 10 days earlier, the right-hander got only four outs and yielded eight runs against Baltimore at Fenway Park.

Bradley put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the third with his first home run, a shot onto Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard. Boston came in with only seven home runs, fewest in the big leagues.

Limited to three singles over the first three innings, Baltimore hit two singles, two doubles and two homers in a four-run fourth.

Chris Davis doubled and Mancini and Schoop homered before Adam Jones chased Wright with an RBI single.

It was Mancini's team-high fifth long ball of the year. He has eight homers in 17 big league games over two seasons.

More Orioles: WAS MANNY MACHADO'S SLIDE INTO DUSTIN PEDROIA DIRTY?​