After staying mum on the topic for the past couple of weeks, Royals manager Ned Yost told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star this afternoon that Jonathan Broxton will replace Joakim Soria as the team’s closer.
This announcement doesn’t come a big surprise. Sure, Broxton has that “proven closer” tag which managers seem to dig, but he was also healthy and effective this spring following elbow surgery last September. After signing a one-year, $4 million deal with the Royals over the winter, the 27-year-old right-hander posted a 1.13 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio over eight innings during Cactus League action.
Greg Holland was the other legitimate contender for the gig. The 26-year-old right-hander had a 1.80 ERA and 74/19 K/BB ratio over 60 innings last season and pitched just fine this spring, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he gets a shot before long. If the Royals fall out of the race, Broxton could easily become trade bait.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.