Some big names were tossed around as potential World Baseball Classic replacements for the injured Mark Teixeira, but the fill-in will be Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
It’s hard to imagine that Hosmer was their first choice, especially following a disappointing season in which he hit just .232 with 14 homers and a .663 OPS in 152 games, but in 2011 he was very impressive as a 21-year-old rookie and before that he was an elite prospect.
Teixeira injured his forearm hitting off a tee before yesterday’s exhibition game and was immediately removed from the roster. In addition to Hosmer the other options at first base for Team USA include Joe Mauer and Ben Zobrist.
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.