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.
Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:
Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.
Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.
At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.
Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.
It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.
Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.