Astros exercise 2012 option on manager Brad Mills, add 2013 option to contract

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Brad Mills went 76-86 in his first season as Houston’s manager, including 40-33 in the second half for the NL’s fourth-best record after the All-Star break, and today the Astros picked up his 2012 option while adding a 2013 option to his contract.
Houston looked like the worst team in baseball through about one-third of the season, but after starting 17-34 they went 59-52 over the final four months despite trading away both Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.
I’m skeptical about the Astros’ chances of building on that success in 2011 because right now their roster looks pretty lacking for a season-long contender, but after misguidedly putting off a true rebuilding effort they finally appear headed in the right direction under Mills.

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.