I missed this yesterday, but Buster Olney heard a rumor (Insider only, alas):
Lou Piniella has told others that one way or the other, 2010 will be his last season managing. Now, keep in mind that Piniella is at the end of what has been an enormously disappointing season for the Cubs; Piniella saying he doesn’t want to manage past 2010 to friends is a little like an exhausted parent saying he/she doesn’t want to have any more kids after putting a rowdy toddler to bed at 9 p.m. Consider the context.
Beyond the shouting match he had with Milton Bradley back in June, we haven’t really seen the Lou Piniella we’ve come to know and love this season. With the kind of year the Cubs have had, a fully-invested Piniella would have acted more like, well, Lou Piniella.
Olney’s note of context caution notwithstanding, I’m inclined to think that Piniella is done with managing, and all that is left is to determine whether the Cubs want him back for the final year of his contract or if, alternatively, they want to begin the Ryne Sandberg era in 2010 instead of 2011.
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.