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Aaron Altherr almost committed “Merkle’s Boner”

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Update (12:23 AM EDT): Franco has officially been credited with a single rather than a fielder’s choice out, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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For those that aren’t familiar, “Merkle’s Boner” — get your mind out of the gutter: in this case, “boner” means “mistake” — refers to a baserunning mistake committed by New York Giants player Fred Merkle. Merkle never touched second base on what appeared to be a game-winning hit against the Cubs. Instead, the game ended in a tie and the Cubs went on to win the makeup game. The Cubs then went on to win the National League pennant by one game over the Giants.

Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr paid homage to “Merkle’s Boner” on Wednesday night. With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Giants, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out against reliever Jake Peavy. Maikel Franco, who had tied the game up at 4-4 in the eighth, ripped a single to center field. Center fielder Denard Span just let the ball roll by him as the game was decided then. Altherr, however, never touched second base, so the Giants got the out there. Had there been two outs instead of one, the Phillies’ game-winning run would’ve been erased. Instead, Altherr was simply ruled out and Franco’s hit was changed to a fielder’s choice out.

Fortunately for the Giants, the Dodgers got smoked by the Rockies, so they maintain a two-game lead in the NL West.

For more details on the Merkle incident, Baseball Reference has a great writeup.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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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.