One wonders if the Orioles may have found the new Koji Uehara when they signed Tsuyoshi Wada to a two-year, $8.15 million contract in December.
Uehara was signed as a starter, only to end up in the bullpen late due to durability concerns. Wada could follow the same path after being shut down indefinitely Sunday because of elbow discomfort.
While X-rays were negative, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun that Wada had fluid drained from the elbow to help with the swelling and also received a cortisone injection.
The 31-year-old Wada was expected to compete for a spot in the Baltimore rotation, but many had already penciled him into the pen because he has some history in relief. The current plan is for him to take three days off and then be reevaulated.
“As for me and how I feel, I feel like I could throw [Monday],” Wada said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
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.