Working his way back to the Majors, Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano was involved in one of the strangest plays you’ll see all year. On April 30, Liriano’s Indianapolis Indians played host to the Gwinnett Braves.
The score was 6-0 in the bottom of the third as Liriano came to bat with a runner on third base and one out. Liriano pulled a line drive towards first baseman Ernesto Mejia, who appeared to catch it on the fly. First base umpire Max Guyll immediately put up his arm to signal the out. Mejia threw home, but the runner was ruled safe by home plate umpire David Soucy. At some point, Guyll’s ruling is overturned as they say the ball hit the ground, so catcher Jose Yepez throws towards first base to force Liriano — who hadn’t run, assuming he was out on the liner — out. The ball bounced and Mejia couldn’t corral it. Pitcher Daniel Rodriguez picked it up and attempted to tag Liriano but it was too late.
I bring this up because a) I hadn’t seen this until today and b) Liriano earned his first win of the season this afternoon as the Pirates beat the Mets 11-2. Liriano went five and one-third innings, allowing one run on six hits and two walks while striking out nine.
Watch the play below, it begins at 1:42.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.