Clayton Kershaw ejected in the middle of a one-hitter

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Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was ejected from Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks for hitting Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra with a pitch in the top of the sixth inning.

Some backstory to this one: The plunking came nearly 24 hours after Parra struck a pose and exchanged words with Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis following a seventh-inning home run Tuesday night. Parra was nearly struck in the head by a pitch just before he went yard, and he yucked it up all the way to home plate. Kershaw was shown by television cameras jawing at the D’Backs bench soon after, and a yelling match ensued for a minute or two. The umps obviously took notice.

Kershaw had allowed just one hit through five scoreless frames on Wednesday night against the first-place Snakes. He was at five strikeouts and had issued no walks. The 23-year-old ace was shutting down a first-place club in the middle of a Cy Young chase, and in front of his own fans in Los Angeles.

Which is why home plate umpire Tim Welke is now baseball’s enemy No. 1. If, you know, we’re basing that ranking on Twitter outrage. (Seriously, click here. Even the level-headed Joe Sheehan is fired up).

Welke didn’t issue a warning. Not before the game, and not after Kershaw struck Parra — instead opting for the immediate toss. Also, the pitch wasn’t all that inside. It barely grazed Parra’s elbow.

Kershaw put himself in a bad spot with Welke and crew for arguing cross-field on Tuesday night with half of the D’Backs roster, but Welke could have done a more thorough job of considering the circumstances.

It’s sadly almost unprecedented, but some discipline for the ump (this time) would seem to be in order.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.