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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Padres 1: Clayton Kershaw’s scoreless innings streak was snapped after 41 2/3 innings when he gave up a homer to Chase Headley in the sixth inning, but other than that he was fantastic, striking out 11 while tossing a three-hitter and notching a complete game. The ERA is now down to 1.78.

Cubs 6, Reds 4: The Cubs avoid the rare five-game sweep thanks to Arismendy Alcantara, who had four hits and scored what proved to be the winning run in the 12th. It was part of a two-run triple hit by Luis Valbuena which he tried to stretch into an inside-the-park home run. Nice try, but it proved to be unnecessary.

Red Sox 4, White Sox 3: Sox win. Mike Carp walked ’em off with a pinch-hit RBI single in the 10th. Jon Lester gave up only one run on seven hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks. In his last six starts, he’s 3-0 with a 1.01 ERA, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 44 2/3 innings. He hasn’t given up a homer in 45 innings.

Phillies 9, Brewers 1: Matt Garza had took a no-hitter into the seventh. That ended there, and the shuotout ended in the eighth when Philly put up a seven-spot. The Phillies sweep the Brewers in four. And the Brewers’ freefall continues: they’ve lost nine of ten.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Steve Pearce homered and scored twice as Batlimore takes two of three (the rain took one) from Washington. The Orioles have won eight of ten.

Athletics 6, Giants 1: Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer and Stephen Vogt drove in three to back up Scott Kazmir, who struck out nine in seven scoreless innings. Oakland has won seven of eight.

Indians 9, Yankees 3: The Indians presented Derek Jeter with an electric guitar which was painted white with Yankees pinstripes before the game, inscribed with Jeter’s No. 2 and the words, “The Captain.” That was the only good thing that happened to the Yankees yesterday. In the game they blew a 3-0 lead and didn’t score again after that. Roberto Perez homered as part of a five-run eighth inning. The Indians catcher was two for three with a walk in his debut.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.
 Braves 3, Mets 1:

Angels 15, Rangers 6: It was 13-2 after three innings so, yeah. Mike Trout had a three-run homer and four hits and four RBI overall. The Angels won for the seventh time in eight games. Texas has lost five straight and 19 of 22.

Pirates 9, Cardinals 1: Edinson Volquez tossed a six-hit complete game allowing only one. Two RBI a piece for Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen.

Tigers 16, Royals 4: Another laugher, as the Tigers explain to the Royals that they are in first place and you, Kansas City, are firmly in second. Every Tigers hitter got a hit and scored a run. The Tigers have won four straight in Kauffman Stadium, outscoring the Royals 42-12.

Twins 4, Mariners 2: Kendrys Morales had a two-run double to back up Yohan Pino, who got his first big league victory by allowing one run over five. Then he was sent down to the minors because politics, man.

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.