Scenes from Spring Training: Welcome to Phoenix Municipal Stadium

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I’m in the press box of Phoenix Municipal Stadium.  I can’t say for sure how long I’ll be here, however, because real estate is at a premium.  Most of these boxes have two rows. The first row is for the beat writers who cover the team every day, the official scorer and people like that.  The second row has spaces for reporters covering the visiting team and a few empty slots. I usually slide into an empty slot.

Here the second row — a full 15-20 spaces, which is large for Arizona — is dedicated to the Matsui Brigade. As in, the Japanese media covering Hideki Matsui.  I’ve heard tell of the size of that contingent, but seeing the kind of real estate theyoccupy is something to behold.  For now I’m in a visiting media slot.  There a five of them. The Indians are the visitors, so I may be safe.  If Paul Hoynes or Jordan Bastain kick me out of my slot, I’ll have no reason to complain.

Get a load of this stadium, though.  It was built in 1964.  That poured concrete facade is the tell.  It reminds me of a government building in Brasilia or something.  Which isn’t a criticism, because I rather like government buildings of that era for some strange reason.  They can be hideous in their Brutalism, but they’re comforting to me.  They remind me of elementary school. Heck, they remind me of Denney Hall on the Ohio State campus, where I probably spent most of my in-class time as an undergrad.  I’m digging Phoenix Municipal.

Oh, and this doesn’t hurt:

I’m heading down to the clubhouse. I promise to not to tell you if I see anything interesting.

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.