Avert your eyes, people. It sounds like Hideki Matsui may play in the outfield next week.
And as new A’s skipper Bob Melvin told Jane Lee and Tom Green of MLB.com, the main objective here isn’t just to make everyone feel really uncomfortable, but to keep Matsui in the lineup during interleague play.
“I want to keep him current and I want to keep him getting current at-bats and consistent at-bats because he’s done very well to this point,” Melvin said. “There’s a good chance you could see him get a start in the outfield, maybe once a series, then the other games doing the pinch-hitting thing. I’ve talked to him about it and he’s comfortable with it.”
The only catch is that if Matsui does make a start or two against the Mets and Phillies next week, it will be in right field, not his customary left field. Matsui has only played seven games in right field during his major league career and hasn’t made an appearance there since 2008 as a member of the Yankees.
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.