Jim Leyland tossed after bad call leads to three runs

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland was ejected from Monday’s game after two innings following a bad call in Boston’s three-run bottom of the second.

With a man on second and two outs, Mike Aviles swung and tipped what appeared to be strike three, ending the inning. However, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson couldn’t tell if catcher Gerald Laird caught the ball and looked to first base ump Bill Welke for help. Welke ruled that the ball hit the ground, extending the at-bat. Replays showed that it was a clean catch by Laird, though.

Aviles went on to single, the first of three straight run-scoring hits for Boston that gave the team a 4-1 lead against Doug Fister.

After the inning concluded, Jim Leyland came out to state his case about the ball, likely arguing that Welke at least should have had the ball checked for dirt. When Leyland, Laird and bench coach Gene Lamont continued to argue from the dugout as the third was set to begin, Leyland and Lamont were both ejected, leading to another lengthy Leyland argument on the field.

Of course, we’re always told that instant replay would lengthen games. However, it would have taken about two seconds to identify that this pitch never hit the ground and might have shortened this game by a full 15 minutes, considering that the ensuing rally and Leyland’s argument wouldn’t have taken place.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.