Cole Hamels is 1-8

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Phillies starter Cole Hamels lost his eighth game this afternoon as he was vastly out-dueled by Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg in the Nats’ 6-1 victory. Hamels allowed five runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings, striking out six and walking one as his ERA was actually lowered to 4.43. The first two months for Hamels have been shocking, reminiscent of his disappointing 2009 season in which he finished with a 4.32 ERA.

Hamels’ eighth loss leads all Major League starters, one ahead of Edwin Jackson and Joe Blanton. It has been an odd year for many assumed top-tier pitchers:

  • Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: 2-2, 5.37 ERA
  • David Price, Rays: 1-4, 5.24 ERA (on the 15-day DL with strained right triceps)
  • Matt Cain, Giants: 3-2, 5.12 ERA
  • Tim Hudson, Braves: 4-3, 4.98 ERA
  • R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays: 4-6, 4.85 ERA
  • Wade Miley, Diamondbacks: 3-4, 4.53 ERA
  • Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: 3-4, 4.50 ERA

While Hamels has certainly not been nearly as effective as he has been in years past, you have to wonder how many wins he could have lucked into if he had received better run support.

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.