The Astros may have celebrated clinching a playoff spot Friday night but this is not the party they want to be having. Houston bombed the Angels, 11-3, but Oakland also won in extra innings to remain 3-1/2 back of the Astros in the A.L. West with nine games left to play. Winning the division is when the real party begins for the defending World Champions.
Gurriel: Gets welcome after slam
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
It sure felt like a party for Yuli Gurriel though. The Cuban import blasted a grand slam off Andrew Heaney in the first, added a two-run homer in the third and chipped in a final run to drive in seven, one short of the franchise record.
39,977 didn't have time to get their seats warm when Houston took the lead to stay in the first. Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman singled while Marwin Gonzalez walked to set up Gurriel who took an inside-out swing at a 94-mph sinker and drove it just inside the right field foul pole for a 4-0 edge. In the third, Yuli plated Gonzalez with a solid pop into the Crawfords for a 6-0 advantage.
In the fifth, Gurriel drove home Tyler White with a base hit to raise the lead to seven. Yuli eclipsed his RBI total from last year and now has 81 on the season.
Yuli's younger brother, Lourdes, also hit a pair of homers for Toronto on Friday night at home against Tampa Bay making them the first brothers in big league history to both have multi-homer performances on the same day.
Cole kept the Angels scoreless until the sixth when Mike Trout smoked his 37th homer of the year, a two-run blast. A third Anaheim run was added in the seventh to draw within 7-3. Cole finished with seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out a dozen. Cole now leads the Junior Circuit with 272 strikeouts, just ahead of teammate Justin Verlander (269) who'll get to answer in this series.
Tony Sipp and Dean Deetz finished off the night with scoreless frames. Meanwhile, the Houston offense decided they were not done. Myles Straw scored in the eighth on a squeeze bunt by Jake Marisnick that was upheld by replay then George Springer added an exclamation point with his 21st homer, a three-run jack over the Crawfords that completed the scoring. If the streaky Springer (who had not homered since September 2nd before Friday) is heating up just in time for the postseason, that will bode well for the Champs.
Verlander (16-9) gets his turn at the Halos Saturday night in a 6:10 pm Central start. Jaime Barria (10-9) will be the choice for Anaheim. Verlander is 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five previous games against the Halos this year. For his career, Justin is 12-9 with a 3.12 ERA in 24 appearances.
Meanwhile, the Astros announced that shortstop Carlos Correa has been given the entire series off to rest up for the home stretch and the playoffs. Correa's hitting has been atrocious since returning from back pain that cost him two months of the season and has admitted his soreness is partly to blame.
This will be the last home series of the regular season. The final seven games will be on the road in Toronto and Baltimore.
- Bob Hulsey