Yunel Escobar suffered a Grade 1 left oblique strain earlier this month, but Jamal Collier of MLB.com reports that he’s on track to make his Grapefruit League debut on Monday.
Escobar was originally slated to play in a minor league game on Sunday, but he’s progressing quicker than expected, so he’s skipping that step. He participated in full pre-game activities this morning, including taking batting practice and fielding grounders at second base for the first time since March 5.
Escobar, who was acquired from the Athletics over the winter, is making the transition to second base this spring. It’s believed that his extra work at the position in the early part of camp is what led to the injury.
While things are looking up for Escobar, third baseman Anthony Rendon is still nursing a minor MCL sprain in his left knee and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return to game action.
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.