The game is still going on — as I write this the White Sox are leading the Tigers 5-4 in the eighth — but a play that happened in the bottom of the fifth sums up the frustration of the Tigers season.
Bases loaded, one out and Dayan Viciedo at the plate. Doug Fister, a ground ball pitcher, needs a grounder to get out of the inning. He gets it! A grounder to short, the flip to Omar Infante at second to get one out, then …. oh no! The takeout slide. Watch. Two runs score, putting the White Sox up 5-4.
Except, for as great as that takeout slide by Alex Rios was — and it was friggin’ textbook — watch all the way through to the final slow motion replay. Even with Infante’s throw disrupted by the takeout slide, Prince Fielder could have and should have scooped that ball up. If he had, the runner is out, neither run scores and the Tigers head into the sixth up 4-3.
Bad infield defense and ground ball pitchers don’t go together very well. And it has killed the Tigers all year.
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.