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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 1, Tigers 0: When the story is told of the 2014 Wild Card winning Yankees, someone is gonna talk about back-to-back great starts by Chris Capuano and Shane Greene, of all people, against the Detroit Tigers. Or maybe I’m nuts, but if the Yankees haven’t been killed yet, maybe they’re impossible to kill? Ever think of that? Huh?

Nationals 5, Mets 3: Bryce Harper with the walkoff two-run homer in the 13th inning. Not bad for a guy who, less than 48 hours ago, was at the center of a little blowup about whether he should be sent to the minors. Leave the kid alone. Let him get healthy. He’s gonna produce.

Reds 4, Indians 0: I guess Bryan Price calling out his players after Monday’s game was effective, because they turned around and took the next three from the Indians. Homer Bailey with seven shutout innings and eight Ks. Billy Hamilton had an RBI triple and scored a run. The guy he knocked in was Bailey. But then he was thrown out rounding third too far. Speed is great, but sometimes speed kills, man.

Pirates 7 Marlins 2: Gregory Polanco drove in four and Edinson Volquez pitched one-hit, shutout ball over seven. But all of this was overshadowed by a scary moment in the seventh when Marlins reliever Dan Jennings was hit in the head by a line drive comebacker. Our friend Old Gator provides some detail:

“The ball came off of Jordy Mercer’s bat at 101 MPH, caught Jennings on the upper right side of his head and bounced straight up and then back in an arc far enough to be caught on the fly by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for the out. That’s a hard hit ball.”

It was hard to watch. He got hit, popped up and then was clearly dazed before falling again. In some ways it’s almost more unsettling to see that than to see a guy stay down. Thankfully he was able to make it to the trainer’s cart under his own power and wave to the crowd. But he sure as hell looked out of it while doing it. Figure a lot of time off for Jennings to come back from this.

Phillies 6, Astros 5: Ryan Howard has certainly woken up this week. A grand slam here, which capped a five-run rally in the eighth when the Phillies were down 5-1. A three-game sweep for the Phillies, who overcame two homers from Chris Carter.

Cubs 6, Rockies 2: Two more homers for Javier Baez, who is certainly having a nice opening series. To be sure, he opened in Colorado and has been facing pitchers who, arguably, are not as good as the guys he was facing down in Iowa. But rather than consider that some sort of detraction from his accomplishments, let us consider that a testament to the Cubs for putting a guy in the right place to succeed.

Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1: A tightly pitched game and a rather tough luck loss for J.A. Happ, who struck out 12 over eight innings. One mistake, though: Caleb Joseph hit him up for a two-run homer early and that was all the O’s would get. But it was all they’d need as Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles pen was just better.

Brewers 3, Giants 1: Wily Peralta is the first pitcher in baseball to reach 14 wins this year as he tosses six and two-thirds of one-run ball while striking out a career-high nine. Jake Peavy is now 0-12 in his last 18 outings. That’s just– man, that’s just.

Royals 6, Diamondbacks 2: Jeremy Guthrie scattered seven hits and allowed only two runs will pitching a shutout as the Royals sweep the Dbacks. Randall Delgado pitched three shutout innings in relief. Which is weird, because I was positive that he got a suspension for intentionally hitting Andrew McCutchen last weekend. It is most irregular that he was allowed to play.

Cardinals 5, Red Sox 2: Adam Wainwright with seven solid innings. His final out came after Mike Matheny came to the mound to check on him. Matheny let him face Yoenies Cespedes. From the game story: “[Cespedes] took a third strike on a full-count curveball and catcher Tony Cruz sprinted to the dugout before home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom raised his right arm.” Oooooh . . . The Unfair One!

Athletics 3, Twins 0: Meanwhile, the guy who was traded for Cespedes, Jon Lester, tossed a three-hit shutout. I’d say that was a good pickup at the deadline.

Mariners 13, White Sox 3: Roenis Elias took a no-hitter into the fifth and notched his fourth straight good start in a row and then he got optioned to Tacoma. Oh well, that’s life for guys on innings limits. Dustin Ackley had four RBI and Endy Chavez, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager each had two-run homers. And, while I didn’t see this, reader CMP78 writes in to tell me we had some grit-in-action. In his words: “The Mariners hit Jose Abreu twice this evening, both unintentionally. The White Sox in retaliation hit Kendrys Morales. The very next hitter, Kyle Seager, hit a two-run home run to make it 13-3.”

Dodgers 7, Angels 0: Hyun-Jin Ryu with seven two-hit shutout innings. Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez each had two-run singles. A lot of people in L.A. think there’s a great chance that the Dodgers and Angels will meet in the World Series. If they do, the Angels had better figure something out, because they just dropped three of four to their freeway rivals.

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.