No matter the circumstances, no major league umpire should ever feel unsafe on the field. MLB simply didn’t do enough to protect its men in blue Wednesday by handing Brett Lawrie a mere four-game suspension for his outburst in Tuesday’s game.
Lawrie’s helmet spike was no mere accident. I’m certainly not going to argue that he intended to injure home-plate umpire Bill Miller, but he could have. He knew exactly where Miller was when he spiked the helmet in that direction. Furthermore, he remained aggressive afterwards, and Miller may well have spent a couple of split-seconds wondering if he was going to get punched.
There’s an awful lot to like about Lawrie’s play on the field, but the 22-year-old has plenty of growing up to do. That he was so completely out of control last night should have earned him a 10-game suspension from the league. The lesser penalty is a slap in the face to those making the calls on the field.
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.