The Nationals were forced to run Mark DeRosa and Roger Bernadina out there on Opening Day against the Cubs, but they have some reinforcements on the way.
According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Michael Morse and Rick Ankiel both homered last night in a minor league rehab game with Double-A Harrisburg.
Morse, who is recovering from a right lat muscle strain, went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run as the designated hitter. Ankiel, who is coming back from a quad injury, went 1-for-3 with a home run while playing center field. Morse is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday against the Mets while Ankiel could return as soon as next Friday against the Reds.
Morse is obviously of more importance here, as he has quietly been the most potent bat in the Nationals’ lineup for the past two seasons. It’s hard to imagine Davey Johnson’s squad making a serious run at the playoffs if he isn’t healthy.
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.