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Jonathan Villar shrewdly dropped a line drive to get a double play

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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.

Phillies option Hector Neris to Triple-A

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The Phillies announced that they’ve optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Nerris, who saved 26 games as the Phillies closer in 2017 and ten games in that role this year, has struggled this year, posting a 6.00 ERA in 30 appearances. While his strikeout and walk rates aren’t too far off what he was doing last year his hit rate has spiked and he’s currently allowing 10.3 safeties per nine. The wheels have come off of late, as he has allowed nine runs on 15 hits — five of them homers — over his last eight innings of work. Yesterday he allowed four runs in the ninth inning of a game the Phillies had led by five.

It was clear that Gabe Kapler had lost faith in Neris as a result, using him almost exclusively in low-leverage situations. That changed on Saturday, as Kapler used him in a save situation and said after the game that they were easing him back into his role. That plan obviously changed after yesterday’s meltdown.

Seranthony Dominguez had been getting the call in save situations. He’ll get them more now.