Earlier this week Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch passed along a rumor that Rick Ankiel “is open to giving pitching one last shot since his market as a position player appears minimal.”
Not so fast, says Ankiel’s agent, Scott Boras (via Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports): “Rick Ankiel is a position player. He’s not pitching.”
We’ll see whether Boras and Ankiel change their minds if the market for him as an outfielder proves extremely weak, as expected. Ankiel has basically had one good full season as a hitter, back in 2008, and since then he’s hit just .234 with a .295 on-base percentage and .383 slugging percentage in 386 games.
At age 33 it’s hard to imagine any team giving him more than a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training as an outfielder.
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.