Link-O-Rama: Pujols slams into tie with Banks

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* After last night’s heroics, Albert Pujols is now 7-for-9 with five grand slams and 24 RBIs in bases-loaded situations this season. Asked about tying Ernie Banks for the NL’s single-season record for grand slams, Pujols said: “Nothing changes. It’s the same approach. Get a good pitch to hit and drive it back through the middle. Just because I’m strong enough, sometimes the ball’s going out of the park.”
* With last night’s scoreless inning Eddie Guardado became the 21st pitcher in baseball history to appear in 900 games. Trevor Hoffman (963) and David Weathers (938) are the only active pitchers with more career appearances, and Everyday Eddie joins Jesse Orosco (1,252), Mike Stanton (1,178), John Franco (1,119), and Dan Plesac (1,064) as the only left-handers in the 900-game club.
* Adrian Gonzalez was out of the Padres’ lineup yesterday and didn’t appear as a pinch-hitter, ending his MLB-leading and franchise-record streak of 314 straight games.
* Having paid $7 a pop for Yuengling lagers at Camden Yards in Baltimore last week, I’m interested in Team Marketing Report finding that the Giants have the most expensive beer in baseball at $8 and the average MLB team charges $6 for a 16-ounce brew.
* Speaking of going to Baltimore last week, if you’re interested in reading my trip report from the annual Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) convention, click here. It’s not pretty, so be warned.
* According to the New York Post, David Wright and his friends Thumbnail image for albertpujols2.JPG

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.