There has been a lot of chatter about how the 2-3 format of the division series — with the higher seed starting on the road for two games — is not really a home field advantage. It certainly hasn’t been for the A’s, as they have started off their series 0-2 in Detroit despite having said advantage, theoretically speaking.
Jonny Gomes put a bit of a point on that yesterday when he spoke with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
Gomes said the A’s 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. buses to the ballpark Sunday felt like 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. for the West Coast team. “It’s tough to call that a home-field advantage,” he said. …
Well, I guess that does kinda stink. And given that, aside from this year’s schedule, which was necessitated by a compressed playoff calendar, baseball has generally abandoned the 2-3 structure, it seems that no one really agrees that 2-3 advantages the higher-seeded team. Also mitigating against any advantage in a 2-3 is the fact that, over the course of baseball history, winners of Game 1 in any series have a pronounced edge.
That said, outside of the Oakland-Tigers tilt, the higher-seeded teams in these division series are 4-0 so far, so I don’t think Gomes is gonna get too many people to join his pity party.
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.