San Francisco needed to create an opening on the 40-man roster over the weekend, but instead of simply transferring Barry Zito to the 60-day disabled list the Giants designated Double-A pitcher Clayton Tanner for assignment.
All of which makes Chris Haft of MLB.com speculate that the Giants “still deemed Zito, who’s recovering from a right ankle injury, potentially useful.”
“Potentially useful” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for someone with a $126 million contract and his odds of cracking a potential playoff roster remain slim, but manager Bruce Bochy noted that the Giants’ various injuries mean they might have to lean on Zito for some innings down the stretch.
Zito is owed $19 million next season, $20 million in 2013, and will get a $7 million buyout in 2014, but has started just nine times this season (with a 5.62 ERA) and last threw a Quality Start on July 7.
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.