Roger Maris honored in North Dakota

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Roger Maris AP.jpgA billboard company in North Dakota has decided to give Roger Maris his due:

A North Dakota billboard company has erected a pair of
signs in Fargo honoring local hero Roger Maris, whose record 61 home
runs in 1961 have long been clouded with an asterisk.

Because he clubbed the homers in more games than Babe Ruth’s record
60, the baseball Hall of Fame has never recognized his feat, much less
admitted him to Cooperstown . . .The billboards feature a picture of Maris during his days as a New
York Yankee and the slogan, “Fargo’s Maris ‘Legitimate’ Home Run King.”

Apart from the fact that (a) there never was any asterisk applied to Maris’ record; (b) the Hall of Fame has most certainly recognized his feat; and (c) if the billboard copy mentioned above is accurate, this is a wonderful example of superfluous quotation marks, which always seem to warm my heart for some reason, this is just fine.  Certainly beats a big empty billboard with a “rent me” sign on it.

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.