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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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Orioles nearing MLB record as pitching continues to give up runs

Orioles nearing MLB record as pitching continues to give up runs

BALTIMORE -- The Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles can smash the ball. Both teams play sound defense, and each has a veteran manager in the dugout.

So, when it comes down to explaining why the Indians lead the AL Central and the Orioles are sinking toward the bottom of the AL East, only one word is necessary: pitching.

Carlos Carrasco struck out 10 , Francisco Lindor homered and the Indians defeated the skidding Orioles 5-1 Wednesday night for their seventh win in eight games.

Carrasco (8-3) allowed seven hits and walked none over six-plus innings to win his third straight start. The right-hander struck out every Baltimore starter except Trey Mancini to reach double figures for the 11th time in his career.

Cleveland held a 3-0 lead when Carrasco yielded three straight singles to open the seventh. Andrew Miller entered and got a force at the plate before striking out Caleb Joseph and Ruben Tejada.

"That's the ballgame," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's pretty impressive. For them to get nothing? That certainly carried the heavy lifting."

Miller said his goal was simply to "just limit the damage."

If only it was that easy for Baltimore. Not only did the Orioles lose for the 10th time in 14 games, but they have allowed at least five runs in 18 consecutive games -- two short of the major league record set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Once the Indians took control with a three-run fifth, Baltimore was all but finished.

"There wasn't much margin for error with Carrasco. He's having another good year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think that's what a lot of people miss about them is, as good of an offensive club and a defensive club as they are, their pitching was good last year and will be again this year."

Dan Otero gave up an RBI double to Jonathan Schoop in the ninth, ending Cleveland's bid for its major league-leading ninth shutout. After Baltimore put runners on the corners with two outs, Bryan Shaw retired Tejada for his second save .

Kevin Gausman (3-7) gave up three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts for the Orioles.

Gausman was cruising until the fifth, when the Indians peeled off four straight hits to go up 3-0. After Roberto Perez doubled in a run, Lindor followed with a two-run homer.

"It's kind of the way things have gone, really, throughout the whole season so far for me," Gausman said. "Pitching well and it kind of gets away from me."

Cleveland added two runs in the ninth against Miguel Castro.

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Manny Machado hits 2 bombs in Orioles 6-5 win over Indians

Manny Machado hits 2 bombs in Orioles 6-5 win over Indians

Another poor outing by their starting pitcher left the Baltimore Orioles facing an early three-run deficit and the prospect of another lopsided loss.

Then Manny Machado took over.

Machado went 4 for 4, homered twice and drove in four runs to help the Orioles beat Cleveland 6-5 on Tuesday night and end the Indians' six-game winning streak.

After absorbing a 12-0 defeat one night earlier, Baltimore fell behind 5-2 before rallying to win for only the fourth time in 13 games.

"Coming back from the game we had (Monday) night -- they really took it to us -- it was good to come out ahead against a real good team," manager Buck Showalter said.

Machado hit a solo homer in the first inning and tied it with a three-run drive in the fifth. Then, in the seventh, Machado doubled off Bryan Shaw (1-2) and scored on a double by Adam Jones.

Machado's first four-hit game since last August lifted his batting average 13 points to .227.

"Just happy I was able to do something for us today," Machado said. "We played great baseball. That's what we've got to keep doing, picking each other up."

Miguel Castro (1-0) worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to earn his first big league victory.

Brad Brach pitched the ninth for his 13th save, retiring Yan Gomes on a deep fly ball with runners on the corners and two outs.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, but Baltimore's comeback enabled him to avoid losing a sixth straight start.

Asked to sum up his outing, Tillman uttered three words: "Not very good."

The Orioles allowed at least five runs in a 17th consecutive game. That's the longest run in AL history and just three short of the dubious major league record of 20 set by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Juan Encarnacion homered for the Indians, whose season-high winning streak thrust the team into first place in the AL Central.

"Nobody wants to lose, but I don't think this loss will affect tomorrow," manager Terry Francona said.

Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin yielded a season-high three homers in 4 2/3 innings. The one pitch he lamented most was the cutter he threw to Machado with two on in the fifth.

"I didn't execute a pitch and it changed the game," he said.

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