Penny wanted out of the American League

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Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins decided against claiming Brad Penny off waivers after they learned that he wanted to go back to the National League.
Instead of the Twins assuming Penny’s remaining contract and taking the Red Sox off the hook for about $1.2 million, he was released after clearing waivers and signed what basically amounts to a one-month, $75,000 deal with the Giants.
Minnesota reached out to Penny through Mike Redmond and Carl Pavano, who previously played with him in Florida, and received indications from both the 31-year-old right-hander and his agent that he’d rather avoid another American League team.
Penny spent the first nine years of his career in the NL, going 94-75 with a 4.06 ERA before posting a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts with the Red Sox. On one hand players dictating waiver claims and roster decisions isn’t such a great thing. On the other hand it’s tough to blame Penny for wanting to flee back to the NL after seeing John Smoltz do the same with (so far) lots of success.

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.