Phillies celebrate

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 6, Rockies 3: Chase Utley tied it on an RBI single in the ninth and then Ryan Howard hit a walkoff three-run bomb. Thing is, LaTroy Hawkins should’ve had the game closed out before either of those guys came to the plate, but Josh Rutledge had a throwing error which allowed both Utley and Howard to bat with two outs.

Athletics 3, Tigers 1: Another game, another wakoff three-run home run. This one from Josh Donaldson off Joe Nathan, who was trying to preserve a 1-0 lead handed to him by a dominant-until-the-ninth Anibal Sanchez. That threw the win to the equally deserving Scott Kazmir, who allowed only one run while going the distance.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Moises Sierra drove in the winning run with a walkoff single. Both T.J. House for the Indians and Hector Noesi for the Sox pitched some pretty spiffy baseball, but neither factored in to the decision. Jason Giambi hit his 440th home run. Then he and his mule went back into the canyon, ready to scare off any other snoopers who come nosing around to jump his claim.

Mets 5, Pirates 0: Bartolo Colon tossed a shutout into the eighth and was at the plate for the wild pitch that scored the first Mets run. And he looked like this as he swung at it:

source:

In his defense, he looks like that when he swings at everything. And he’s 0 for 17 on the year with ten strikeouts. I feel like the DH in the NL is inevitable, but I also want them to wait until Bartolo Colon is done playing in the NL because how can you deprive us of this, Baseball Gods?

Astros 9, Royals 3: Another game, another homer for George Springer. That’s nine in May for him. Chris Carter homered twice. The Astros sweep the Royals, who have lost four in a row.

Giants 5, Cubs 0: Six Giants pitchers, led off by Tim Lincecum, combine for a two-hit shutout of the Cubs. Despite only two hits, the Cubs had ten base runners as Giants pitchers walked five and hit a batter and two more Cubs reached on errors. They couldn’t convert, though.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: That’s nine straight for Toronto, this one coming on a walkoff E-1 following a bunt to the pitcher. The other two runs scored on an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion in the first.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Miami blew a 4-0 lead but the Nats bullpen fell apart in the tenth with Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett allowing four runs of their own. Henderson Alvarez left this one for the Marlins with elbow stiffness. Sadly that’s not too rare a thing in baseball this year.

Red Sox 4, Braves 0: John Lackey pitched a shutout into the seventh and Sox hitters dinked and dunked Gavin Floyd and Alex Wood to death. Three straight wins for Boston now. This one coming on Idiots Day at Fenway.

Brewers 8, Orioles 3: Nelson Cruz hit homers 18 and 19, but they came in a losing effort. Ryan Braun’s two-run double and Khris Davis’ three-run homer came in a winning effort.

Rangers 1, Twins 0: Joe Saunders and four relievers combine for the shutout, with their only run of support coming on a Luis Sardinas single in the seventh. Not bad for Saunders, who was making his first start in two months.

Yankees 7, Cardinals 4: Hiroki Kuroda won on the road for the first time in 11 starts, stretching back to last year. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBI. The Yankees take the series. Brian McCann started at first base and went 2 for 4. So that was something.

Diamondbacks 12, Padres 6: An eight-run first for Arizona pretty much ended this one before it started. Dbacks starter Chase Anderson got 18 runs of support in the start before this one. He’s gonna get spoiled.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: King Felix took a shutout into the ninth and struck out nine. Mike Zunino drove in both of the M’s runs, one on a solo shot.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw pitched OK, but Homer Bailey pitched better. Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer, but Brandon Phillips hit a two-run shot. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.

 

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.

World Baseball Classic pools, venues announced

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of Venezuela gets a hit and drives in a run against Spain during the first round of the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on March 10, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Yesterday the folks who run the World Baseball Classic (i.e. the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people, under the supervision of the reverse vampires, the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission) announced the groupings and venues for next springs’s tournament. It breaks down thusly:

  • Pool A will play in Tokyo, featuring Australia, China, Cuba, and Japan;
  • Pool B will play in Seoul, featuring Chinese Taipei, Korea, the Netherlands, and either Brazil, Israel, Great Britain, or Pakistan (final participant to be determined at a qualifying tournament in New York next month);
  • Pool C will play in Miami, featuring Canada, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and the United States;
  • Pool D will play in Guadalajara, featuring Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

A winner and a runner-up will advance from each pool following a round-robin competition. That will result in a second round robin made up of Pool A and B — which will be called Pool E, because it HAS to be complicated — and which will be played in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Pool C and D’s representatives will make up Pool F, who will play in San Diego at Petco Park.

The winner of Pool F will then take on the runner-up of Pool E in a semifinal at Dodger Stadium, while the winner of Pool E will face Pool F’s runner-up there as well. The winners of those matches will play in the WBC final, also at Dodger Stadium.

Got it? Good.

Now we wait. And listen to people tell us how much we should care about the World Baseball Classic between now and March.