Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo hit one for the history books on Saturday as he fueled the team’s 4-3 win over the Royals with a walk-off home run in the 10th. The homer — a leadoff solo shot off of a Kevin McCarthy fastball — was Choo’s eighth of the year and 176th of his career, giving him the edge over Hideki Matsui for the most MLB home runs by an Asian-born player.
Exactly what happened to the ball afterwards is still a bit of a mystery, though the Rangers put out a PSA after the game’s dramatic finish. It doesn’t look like anyone has stepped forward with the ball just yet.
Choo, 35, is off to a solid start this season. While he’s nowhere near the .276-average, 3.4+ fWAR totals of years past, he’s batting a strong .259/.359/.423 with eight home runs, two stolen bases and a .782 OPS in 234 plate appearances so far.
His extra-inning blast gave the Rangers the necessary advantage for their 22nd win of the year. Had it not been for Bartolo Colon‘s three-run snafu in the third inning, the right-hander would have joined Choo with a historical milestone of his own: the most career pitcher wins by a Dominican-born player, with 243.
The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.
One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.
Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.
Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.