After a terrific start for the A’s in June, Brandon Moss has been a part-time player these last couple of months. However, he’s still hitting for power, having delivered his 18th homer of the season Tuesday against the Angels. It came in just his 201st at-bat.
With the A’s having 21 games left after tonight, it seems likely that Moss will end up right around 250 at-bats for the season. He has a chance to become just the seventh player ever to hit 20 homers in a season of 250 or fewer at-bats.
Johnny Blanchard (1961 Yankees): 21 HR, 243 AB
Willie McCovey (1962 Giants): 20 HR, 229 AB
Art Shamsky (1966 Reds): 21 HR, 234 AB
Mark McGwire (2000 Cardinals): 32 HR, 236 AB
David Ross (2006 Reds): 21 HR, 247 AB
Mike Napoli (2008 Angels): 20 HR in 227 AB
If Moss ends up over 250 at-bats, he could still find himself in a pretty exclusive list of players with at least 20 homers in seasons of 300 or fewer at-bats. 29 players have done that, including Glenallen Hill and McGwire twice each. Jim Thome was the last, finishing with 25 homers in 276 at-bats for the 2010 Twins.
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.