Mark Prior’s latest comeback has brought him to Triple-A for the Red Sox’s affiliate and, so far at least, he’s been healthy and effective.
We’re only talking about three appearances, of course, but Prior has thrown 4.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts.
His velocity, while not where it was before all the injuries, has reportedly been pretty solid facing a handful of hitters per outing as a reliever and despite seemingly being around forever Prior is still just 31 years old.
Prior has reached the point in his career where it doesn’t really make any logical sense to get excited about his performance or optimistic about him getting back to the majors, but … well, 10 strikeouts in 4.2 innings is worth a mention for a guy baseball fans should be rooting for.
Through age 24 he had a 3.24 ERA and 719 strikeouts in 613 innings. That was in 2005. He struggled in 2006, going 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA, and hasn’t throwing a major-league pitch since.
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.