The Pirates continued their hot streak with a 2-1 victory over the Brewers tonight, their eighth in a row and their 50th of the season. The Red Sox also started the day at 49 wins, but dropped their afternoon game against the Blue Jays. The Cardinals won, so the Pirates maintain their one-game lead in the NL Central.
Starter Francisco Liriano tossed six solid frames for the Buccos, allowing just one run on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. He lowered his ERA to 2.23 as he has turned out to be quite a solid pickup by GM Neal Huntington judging from the lefty’s first ten starts in Pittsburgh. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli each pitched a perfect inning in relief. Grilli picked up his league-leading 27th save in the effort. The offense was provided by two solo home runs, by Pedro Alvarez in the second and by Garrett Jones in the fourth.
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.