There’s a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today about Ryan Theriot, his changing role on the Cardinals since the Rafael Furcal trade and the fact that he got a rare start at shortstop yesterday. This quote from Theriot sticks out more than a little bit:
The Cardinals led the division until July 27, four days before the Furcal acquisition. Speaking only about his own role, Theriot noted, “When I was playing shortstop we were in first place. I know that. It is what it is.”
Never mind that Furcal is better hitter than Theriot and has played far better defense. If you’re Theriot, correlation = causation and there’s no escaping that kind of geometric logic.
Not that a lot of people won’t buy this. There are people convinced that the Cardinals have been in the crapper for the past few years because David Eckstein isn’t their shortstop anymore. Hey, they won the World Series when he was there, and that speaks for itself, right?
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.