Alex Rodriguez on Mariano Rivera, after calling him not just one of the best pitchers ever, but one of the best athletes of all time in any sport:
. . . the biggest compliment or the biggest way I can share with all our fans and specially Mariano Rivera fans is that when the moment gets really, really, really tough, and New Yorkers can appreciate this about Mariano, the best Mariano Rivera always stands out. And he’s my hero and a role model and a dear friend.
On the one hand: I think we’ve stumbled upon a legitimately, observable and unequivocal flaw with Alex Rodriguez apart from PED stuff: his being unable to actually follow the example of his role models. Unless there’s a lot we don’t know about Mariano Rivera’s example, anyway.
On the other, more serious hand: I think it’s notable that Rodriguez, for all of his faults, has rarely if ever that I can remember said a bad thing about his teammates. Maybe I’m just blanking on something, but for all of his controversies, he hasn’t been involved in specifically clubhouse controversies. They are PR things and PED things and clashes with the front office, but I cant’ recall him slagging on teammates or managers.
Anyway: waiting for someone to go after A-Rod for “using the good name of Mariano Rivera” to cynically improve his own personal brand and PR profile or something. You know it’s coming.
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.