I knew it was the Tommy Lasorda anniversary. I had no idea it was the anniversary of the Jose Oquendo game, too. Though I do remember that game well as it came against the Braves back when my entire life consisted of watching Braves games on TBS.
Chris Jaffe takes us on a walk down memory lane of this 19-inning affair, with all of the details of what made this “The Jose Oquendo Game.” The fact that pitcher Jose DeLeon played the outfield — switching back and forth between left and right ELEVEN TIMES — didn’t even make it rate in naming it. The fact that Rick Mahler — a starter — came in from the pen and thew eight scoreless innings with just three hits and three walks while WINNING THE GAME for the godawful 1988 Braves doesn’t rate either.
No, it was the Jose Oquendo game, as the super-duper utility player, who may have been my favorite player on that field that day even though he wasn’t a Brave, pitched FOUR INNINGS in relief. He had no choice, really. As Jaffe explains, the Cardinals pitching staff was totally toasted after a stretch of nine straight days of games and an extended extra innings game just a couple days before.
Oquendo pitched two other times in his career, once in 1987, once in 1991. But he those were each an inning. This one was something else.
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.