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Watch: Andrew Romine plays all nine positions in one game

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Weird baseball came early to the Tigers this weekend. Instead of allowing Andrew Romine to start at all nine positions on Sunday, as announced, club manager Brad Ausmus decided to have the outfielder go for the feat during Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Twins.

This doesn’t happen often. It’s the kind of end-of-season gimmick that helps draw crowds to a losing team and gives diehard fans a neat piece of trivia. In fact, only four other major league players have ever played all nine positions in a single game: Royals’ shortstop Bert Campaneris (1965), Twins’ infielder/outfielder Cesar Tovar (1968), Rangers’ infielder Scott Sheldon (2000) and Tigers’ infielder Shane Halter (2000). (A bonus fun fact: Ausmus was playing behind the dish on the day that Halter started at all nine positions, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.)

Here’s how it all went down:

Romine started Saturday’s game in a familiar position, taking his spot in left field for the first inning. He fielded two fly ball outs, but couldn’t quite get to Miguel Sano‘s line drive single in time, and Tigers’ right-hander Buck Farmer walked in a run in the next at-bat.

In the second, Romine shook things up in the outfield. He shifted to center, while right fielder Alex Presley moved to left field and JaCoby Jones left his post in center field to cover right field. This time, no balls were hit in Romine’s direction, and Farmer held the Twins to a solitary walk.

Romine completed his tour of the outfield in the third inning, swapping places with Jones again so he could try out the right field corner. Eddie Rosario slapped a first-pitch single in Romine’s direction, but was left stranded as Sano and Max Kepler went down swinging to end the threat.

With all three outfield positions checked off, Romine changed places with third baseman Nick Castellanos in the fourth inning. Perhaps he’s a magnet: Eduardo Escobar popped out in the first at-bat, sending Romine hustling for the ball in foul territory.

Ausmus inserted Jeimer Candelario as a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth inning, and the rookie returned to man the hot corner in the bottom of the inning while Romine tried his glove at shortstop. Joe Mauer led off with a walk, but Jorge Polanco gave Romine the opportunity he needed to test his double-play skills, grounding into a 4-6-3 play to catch Mauer at second base.

The Tigers stuck with their by-the-book strategy, keeping Romine moving around the horn in the sixth as he scooted over to second base and Dixon Machado shifted to short. Romine didn’t get any whizbangers here, though, as Chad Bell stepped in to replace Farmer and set down a quick 1-2-3 half-inning.

The real test of the night came in the seventh, when Romine made his first career appearance behind the dish. It’s a position his brother, Yankees’ catcher Austin Romine, is much more familiar with, and one that Andrew didn’t take a special shine to during his brief tryout on Saturday — despite getting to use his brother’s hand-me-down glove. He guided Blaine Hardy through four at-bats (with some generous help from Bryan Holaday at second base), during which Hardy induced a fly out, line drive double, RBI single, and a walk. Romine, meanwhile, contributed his first (and hopefully last) passed ball, and briefly returned to second base while James McCann stepped in to catch the rest of the inning.

Romine’s leash was even shorter when he got on the mound in the eighth. He missed the strike zone with his first two pitches and worked a 3-1 count before inducing a Miguel Sano groundout. That may have been too close for comfort for Ausmus, however, who moved Romine to first base for his ninth and final position of the night.

Romine fielded a routine grounder to end the eighth inning and returned in the bottom of the ninth as the Twins tried to rally for a late lead, capping the Tigers’ win after palming a Zack Granite grounder at first base.

“Right now, I’m just happy we won. I think it’ll kick in a little bit when I go and sit down and celebrate with the guys in the locker room,” the exhausted infielder/outfielder/catcher/pitcher said following the game. “Relief, happiness, you name it, I’m feeling it right now. It’s so much fun.”

Let’s hope he gets a breather tomorrow. He’s earned it.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).