Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez’s outing didn’t last long. Cardinals hitters Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back solo home runs, and Matt Holliday followed up with a single on a line drive to center. Sanchez, who posted an 8.07 ERA in 15 starts last year, entered the night with an 11.12 ERA in his first three starts. Perhaps frustrated with his seemingly endless struggling, Sanchez appeared to intentionally throw a fastball at Allen Craig’s head.
Home plate umpire Tim Timmons immediately ejected Sanchez from the game. Manager Clint Hurdle came out to protest the decision, ostensibly because Sanchez did not first receive a warning, and was ejected himself after shouting a few lascivious words.
Jeanmar Gomez came in to relieve Sanchez and put a halt to the Cardinal offense.
Click here for a .gif of the Sanchez pitch and ejection.
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.