Early this morning, tragic news broke out of the Dominican Republic. Yordano Ventura has passed after a gruesome accident. Former Indian, Andy Marte also died as a result of a separate car crash in The Dominican today.
The Kansas City Royals pitcher was only 23 when he defeated the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series and was on top of the world. Now, just three years later, we have lost one of the brightest stars in our game. Rest in Peace Yordano Ventura.
The Giants and Royals met in the 2014 World Series as unlikely opponents. The Giants started the post-season as the second wild card team. After beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, they went on to defeat the heavily favored Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals.
The Royals, meanwhile, took the momentum from their wild card comeback win against the Oakland Athletics all the way to the Fall Classic, dominating in the Division and Championship series.
Ventura’s first postseason experience was a rough one, allowing two runs in just a third of an inning against the Athletics. However, by the time the Royals made it to the World Series, Yordano had become more comfortable on the big stage.
Then, tragedy struck. On the night of October 26, 2014, reports out of the Dominican Republic, were that Oscar Tavares, a young phenom outfielder of the St. Louis Cardinals had tragically died in a car accident. The news hit players on both teams, as it was in the middle of the World Series.
Giants outfielder Juan Perez found out in the middle innings of Game 5. He had been watching the game from the dugout and noticed many messages on his phone as we went to use the restroom.
Players began to find out on both benches, but then Perez was asked to pinch hit. Perez composed himself and ended up emptying the bases with the biggest double of his life.
It was an emotional experience for Perez, who knew Tavares well. So did Ventura.
The Royals phenom was destroyed by the news as well, and yet took the mound the very next game. He had included “RIP OT #18” on his hat. Kansas City and St. Louis are natural rivals for their proximity to one another, and yet on this night, no Royals fan was upset that Ventura was honoring a Cardinal.
Ventura certainly honored the memory of his fallen brother as he dominated the Giants in Game 6. With the Giants up 3-2 in the series, it was a must win for Kansas City. Ventura went to that mound and did not allow a single run in seven scoreless innings
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Giants fans knew all too well about how impressive it could be for a young pitcher to stand on a World Series mound and dominate. They saw it with Madison Bumgarner as a 20-year-old in Texas. Royals fans were seeing it on this night. Ventura went into Game 6 with a 4.42 ERA over 18.1 innings pitched so far that postseason. His ERA was significantly lower, however, in his three starts, allowing only 7 runs over 18 innings.
Game 6 was over before Ventura took the mound in the third inning. The Royals scored seven runs in the second on their way to a 10-0 victory.
Ventura was brilliant. He faced 28 batters and allowed 3 hits. His performance was one for the ages and was made even more memorable by the tragedy two days earlier.
The right handed started the game striking out Gregor Blanco on a 3-2 pitch that he painted perfectly on the inside corner of the left-handed hitter. All four of his strikeouts would come against left-handed hitters. He worked that inside corner all night and did not let anyone on the Giants make solid contact. Every time there was a threat, the ball seemed to find Ventura’s glove and shut down any momentum the Giants made.
It really was beautiful to watch as a baseball fan. Here you saw a 23-year-old who was pitching with a fearlessness and a confidence rarely seen by any pitcher on a stage this big. You just knew we would be seeing and hearing more from the young right hander after that night.
Now, the baseball community must mourn the death of Ventura, gone at the age of 25. On a day of such sadness, here is the incredible performance by Ventura we will never forget.
Current Giant, and former Royal, Johnny Cueto was also affected by the tragedy. The two were teammates in the Royals 2015 World Series Championship. Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Ventura were known as the “El trío Dominicano,” with each playing a vital role in bringing Kansas City its first title in decades. Cueto retweeted this photo of them at the Royals 2015 parade:
Here are how some of the Giants family have reacted. We’ll update as more come out:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ventura family and the Marte family, the Kansas City Royals, and both player’s teammates, past or present. RIP ACE. RIP Andy Marte.