The Red Sox, leading 1-0 over the Brewers in the top of the third inning on Thursday afternoon, had a runner on first base and one out facing starter Jimmy Nelson. Mitch Moreland lined a 1-2 fastball up the middle. With the infield shifted, second baseman Jonathan Villar appeared to catch the line drive, but with his back turned to the infield, the ball trickled out of his glove. Villar quickly shoveled the ball to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who quickly fired the ball to first base to complete the 4-6-3 double play.
Xander Bogaerts, who was on first base, was confused by the whole situation. Red Sox manager John Farrell came out to argue that Villar intentionally dropped the line drive. If the umpires agreed, Moreland would be out but Bogaerts would stay on first base according to rule 6.05(l). The umpires did not agree, so the inning ended on Villar’s shrewd double play.
Watching the video, especially in slow motion, it does appear that Villar intentionally dropped the line drive, so he probably got away with that one. It didn’t matter, though, as the Red Sox won 4-1.
The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.
A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.
Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.
The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.
Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.