Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Many have predicted that the Orioles’ negative run differential would eventually catch up with them. Yet here we are on September 1 and the Orioles are just two games behind the Yankees for first place in the American League East. Fun times.

The Orioles continued to put the pressure on last night, topping the Yankees 6-1 in the Bronx. They got there behind seven shutout innings from Miguel Gonzalez, who notched a career-high nine strikeouts. Who? Yes, Miguel Gonzalez. Symbolic of the surprising Orioles, the 28-year-old right-hander now owns a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts and three relief appearances this season.

Mark Reynolds was the big hero on the offensive side, slugging a two-run homer off Hiroki Kuroda in a three-run second inning and a solo shot off Derek Lowe in the top of the ninth. J.J. Hardy also homered while Nick Markakis went 3-for-5 with an RBI single. The Yankees could only muster five hits all night and didn’t get a run until a solo homer by Curtis Granderson in the ninth.

The Orioles will try to close the gap even further this afternoon when they send Wei-Yin Chen to the mound against David Phelps.

Your Friday box scores:

Giants 4, Cubs 6

Rangers 5, Indians 3

Cardinals 0, Nationals 10

White Sox 4, Tigers 7

Mets 3, Marlins 0

Phillies 8, Braves 5 (10 innings)

Rays 1, Blue Jays 2

Reds 9, Astros 3

Red Sox 2, Athletics 20

Pirates 3, Brewers 9

Padres 5, Rockies 4

Angels 9, Mariners 1

Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3

Twins/Royals — PPD (Doubleheader Saturday)

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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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.