PNC Park in Pittsburgh opened 18 years ago. It sits on the banks of the Allegheny River, just a tad to the east of where it meets up with the Monongahela to form the Ohio. The river flows beyond — way beyond — the right field stands.
Several players have hit homers that have ended up in the river, but the vast majority of those bounced first. Before today, only three people had hit home runs into the river on the fly: Daryl Ward of the Astros and Garret Jones and Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates. Today Josh Bell of the Pirates became the fourth guy to do it.
Bell took an extraordinarily straight one-ball, no-strike fastball from Shelby Miller and sent it out 472 feet to right, splashing down:
You’re not gonna find many fastballs that are that hittable, but even so, that was a hell of a rip from Bell.
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.