90 percent of pitchers are using spray-on sunscreen, Buchholz-style

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Jeff Passan picks up the thread Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris pulled last week regarding Clay Buchholz’s start against the Jays and accusations that he was doctoring the ball:

Two veteran pitchers and one source close to the Red Sox told Yahoo! Sports that about 90 percent of major league pitchers use some form of spray-on sunscreen – almost always BullFrog brand – that when combined with powdered rosin gives them a far superior grip on the ball … one source close to the Red Sox confirmed the team’s pitchers almost all rely on sunscreen for better grip on finicky balls, particularly in cold, bad weather.

It seems almost certain, based on what Passan’s sources are telling him, that yes, Buchholz was applying a foreign substance to the ball last week.  But it also seems certain, based on what Passan’s sources are telling him, that almost all pitchers do it and, really, no one cares.

Which I think does matter when talk about the nature of all of this. How much it matters I don’t know. If the Blue Jays were willing to look the other way — and they were, probably because their pitchers do the same damn thing — I’m not sure where the mandate to start inspecting every pitcher’s arm comes from, even if applying Bull Frog to the ball is a violation of a clear rule.

Of course, I’ve been trying to tell people for years that, while against the rules, players using PEDs was maybe something more complex than anti-PED gang was willing to admit given its pervasive and open use.  Doesn’t make it right. Doesn’t make it legal. But does provide some context with which reasonable people should maybe use in order to filter their outrage and with which to determine just how sharp those pitchforks should be.

So: any of those folks willing to take the “I don’t care if everyone is doing it and it’s ‘just part of the game,’ Buchholz is a cheating cheater who cheats” tack here?  I’m not gonna hold my breath for it, but please, let me know if you feel that way.

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.