Mauer denies report of a negotiation deadline

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Yesterday Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reported that Joe Mauer had imposed an Opening Day deadline on extension talks with the Twins. Mauer’s response? Wha?!

“I’m not going to react to every story/rumor that comes out or comment
on any negotiations. As far as that report, I don’t know where that
came from . . . I’ve always said it will happen when it needs to happen and I truly
believe that. I’m not
the kind of guy that, you know, says by this date we need to have
something done.”

Hard to say how this stuff happens. My guess: either Passan or his source — described as “a source close to the American League Most Valuable Player” — confused Mauer’s understandable desire or reasonable expectation to have something done before Opening Day with a demand that something be done then. This sort of thing happens when you’re essentially playing a game of telephone, which is more or less what all rumor reporting is.

Regardless, no one has denied last week’s report that the Twins are going to go all out to re-sign Mauer, likely before Christmas. With the new stadium and the MVP and his local boy status and all of that, it’s a no-brainer.

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.