The Tigers were twice in good position to break a scoreless tie against Jon Lester and the Red Sox in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS, but poor base running decisions left them with nothing at the end of the inning. Jhonny Peralta led off with a double to left-center. Omar Infante followed up with a sharp grounder to Mike Napoli at first base, who fired to second base as Peralta had initially broken towards third base. Shortstop Stephen Drew applied the tag on Peralta just before his foot got back to the bag, leaving the Tigers with a runner on first base and one out.
They continued to threaten, however, as Alex Aliva lined a single to right field. Infante was able to advance to third base when Shane Victorino hilariously kicked the ball in front of himself. With runners on the corners and one out, the Tigers score in a number of ways — any kind of hit, a fly ball of moderate depth, and most non-double play ground balls. Jose Iglesias hit a slow curve on the ground to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who fired home to catcher David Ross, nailing Infante with plenty of room to spare. Austin Jackson meekly flied out to right field to end the frame, the Tigers still scoreless.
The Tigers were, by far, baseball’s worst base running team during the regular season, according to Baseball Prospectus.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez is pitching extremely well, having racked up ten strikeouts in five innings of work. He has yet to allow a hit, though he has walked three batters. For the Tigers, it is imperative they provide him a modicum of run support, but to Lester’s credit, he has looked quite strong on the mound as well, blanking the Tigers on five hits and no walks while striking out five.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.