Will Leitch wrote a pretty great article in New York Magazine the other day, pretty much perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of Yankees baseball in the early 21st century. The upshot: this year, as in just about every other year in recent history, the Yankees’ regular season has been something of a formality, though not one without problems. The playoffs are basically a formality, even if the team is far from perfect, and those imperfections — rotation problems, etc. — sort of define the April-September portion of the season as a slightly miserable, though by no means bad proposition. An “amiable slog” as Leitch puts it.
Ultimately, Leitch believes, this is the definition of “The Girardi Era,” as he calls it. And he contemplates whether those annoying little flaws can be overcome this fall. But he also notes that like everything else in the postseason, it’s more a matter of good fortune, not design, and that as such, you can’t really do anything about it but sit and wait to see what happens.
I’ll admit it: the Yankees usually bore me. But I may be able to appreciate them as a piece of existential philosophy.
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.