The Toronto Blue Jays are heading home with a 2-0 series lead over the Texas Rangers in the ALDS and are happy pitcher Francisco Liriano has been deemed healthy enough to join them after he was hit in the head by a line-drive by Carlos Gomez in the eighth inning of the Blue Jays’ 5-3 win Friday afternoon.
Liriano was able to gather himself and walk off the field without any help, but an ambulance was outside the Blue Jays’ clubhouse after the game and a conscious Liriano was loaded into it on a stretcher with his neck mobilized, according to Sporsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi. The ball came off Gomez’s bat at 102 mph, connected with the side of Liriano’s head, and caromed into right-center field.
The good news is that Liriano’s received the all-clear from doctors at a local hospital in Arlington to travel back to Toronto on the team flight.
It’s always scary seeing pitchers take a direct hit like Liriano did. Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker suffered a small skull fracture as a result of a 105 mph line drive to the head in September and is considering wearing a hat with additional protection going forward. So far, however, none of the protective ballcap prototypes have caught on. Liriano seemed OK when he left the field, but it’s better to be safe than sorry in situations like this one.
Beyond the obvious concerns about Liriano’s health on an individual level, there’s a team-concern with the Jays bullpen if the left-hander has to sit out and recover. Closer Roberto Osuna, who left the AL wild-card game with a shoulder injury, came in to replace Liriano in the eighth and recorded a five-out save. Toronto’s weakness is their relief pitching and potentially losing another key arm stretches them even more thin than before.
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