Update (12:23 AM EDT): Franco has officially been credited with a single rather than a fielder’s choice out, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
For those that aren’t familiar, “Merkle’s Boner” — get your mind out of the gutter: in this case, “boner” means “mistake” — refers to a baserunning mistake committed by New York Giants player Fred Merkle. Merkle never touched second base on what appeared to be a game-winning hit against the Cubs. Instead, the game ended in a tie and the Cubs went on to win the makeup game. The Cubs then went on to win the National League pennant by one game over the Giants.
Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr paid homage to “Merkle’s Boner” on Wednesday night. With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Giants, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out against reliever Jake Peavy. Maikel Franco, who had tied the game up at 4-4 in the eighth, ripped a single to center field. Center fielder Denard Span just let the ball roll by him as the game was decided then. Altherr, however, never touched second base, so the Giants got the out there. Had there been two outs instead of one, the Phillies’ game-winning run would’ve been erased. Instead, Altherr was simply ruled out and Franco’s hit was changed to a fielder’s choice out.
Fortunately for the Giants, the Dodgers got smoked by the Rockies, so they maintain a two-game lead in the NL West.
For more details on the Merkle incident, Baseball Reference has a great writeup.
Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez had been out since mid-June with a non-displaced fracture of the radial neck of his right elbow, suffered while running into the right field wall on a catch attempt. He was activated on Wednesday but did not start against the White Sox.
Martinez did, however, pinch-hit in a 1-1 game in the eighth inning against White Sox starter Chris Sale. Sale threw a first-pitch fastball, which Martinez promptly deposited well beyond the fence in center field at Comerica Park, giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
The 2-1 score would hold, extending the Tigers’ winning streak to eight games. As the Indians lost to the Twins, the Indians’ lead in the AL Central is down to two games.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the second inning by smashing a Steven Matz fastball to the opposite field for a three-run home run. The 6-3 score would hold into the middle innings.
In the fifth inning, Teixeira took his next at-bat against Matz. Matz threw a first-pitch fastball at Teixeira’s legs, hitting him in the left shin. Understandably, Teixeira wasn’t happy about that. He started shouting at Matz and catcher Rene Rivera had to get in his way. Both teams’ benches and bullpens emptied, but peace was quickly restored. In fact, the Mets’ bullpen just stood awkwardly in the outfield, collectively wondering if it was worth the effort to jog towards the infield if nothing was going to happen.
In the next at-bat, Chase Headley would ground into an inning-ending double play. Teixeira went hard at second baseman Neil Walker — legally — trying to break up the double play attempt. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The oddities would continue. In the seventh inning, Mets reliever Hansel Robles allowed a leadoff single to Gary Sanchez followed by a double to Aaron Hicks, putting runners on second and third. Robles struck Jacoby Ellsbury out, then yielded a sacrifice fly to Rob Refsnyder, bringing Teixeira back to the plate. Teixeira walked on five pitches. Robles would then proceed to walk Headley on five pitches, pushing Teixeira to second base. Robles barked at Teixeira and seemed to accuse him of stealing signs. Robles then allowed an infield single to Starlin Castro, pushing in a run. Robles was removed from the game and jawed at Teixeira (at third base now) on his way off the field. Teixeira tapped his helmet as if to say, “I’m in your head.”