Leadoff men Ichiro Suzuki, Erick Aybar pull off unusual feat

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As the Angels were beating the Mariners 8-3 on Thursday night, Ichiro Suzuki and Erick Aybar became the first pair of leadoff men to drive in three runs in the same game in a season and a half.
Ichiro supplied all of Seattle’s runs on the night with a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning, giving him his first three-RBI game since April 15, 2009.
Aybar singled in two runs in the second and then one more in the sixth for his first three-RBI game since Aug. 17, 2009.
They were the first leadoff men to both plate three runs for their respective teams since Ian Kinsler and Grady Sizemore did so on April 9, 2009. Of course, those two accomplished it with a bit more power. Kinsler homered once and Sizemore went deep twice in the Rangers’ 12-8 win over the Indians.
Ichiro and Aybar, obviously, were far less likely candidates to combine for six RBI than Kinsler and Sizemore were. Among AL players, only Juan Pierre was averaging fewer RBI per AB than Aybar this season and Ichiro was right there as well. Here was the bottom eight headed into Thursday’s action:
1. Juan Pierre – 14/339 – .041
2. Nyjer Morgan – 14/329 – .043
3. Erick Aybar – 16/325 – .049
4. Ryan Theriot – 18/335 – .054
5. Michael Bourn – 20/321 – .062
6. Austin Jackson – 20/313 – .064
7. Todd Helton – 16/248 – .065
8. Ichiro Suzuki – 24/362 – .067

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.