Reds rookie Tony Cingrani was electric in his third career start this afternoon against the Nationals. The 23-year-old lefty held the Nats to two hits, walking one and striking out 11 over six innings, lowering his ERA to 1.50 in the process.
Cingrani struck out four Nationals in the bottom of the fourth, a rare feat. He struck out Denard Span to lead off the inning, but catcher Corky Miller couldn’t corral the sinker in the dirt, allowing Span to reach base safely. Danny Espinosa doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs, but Cingrani buckled down and struck out Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Ian Desmond to escape the inning unscathed and with four more strikeouts in the box score.
The last Reds pitcher to strike out four in an inning was Frankie Rodriguez in 2001, per the Reds official Twitter. More specifically, it was on July 22.
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.