Cubs closer Kevin Gregg went on a tirade in front of the media following this afternoon’s loss at the hands of the Braves at Wrigley Field. Gregg entered the top of the ninth to protect a 5-5 tie, but surrendered four runs in the inning en route to a 9-5 loss. After the game, he expressed displeasure that the Cubs were considering replacing him as closer in 2014, according to Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune.
Yesterday, on ESPN Insider, Joe Kaiser reported that the Cubs were giving Pedro Strop a look in the closer’s role just to see what they had. Manager Dale Sveum was very complimentary of Gregg, who entered today’s game with a 2.90 ERA and 32 saves. Sveum said, “God knows where we’d be without him”.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was not happy that Gregg publicized his complaints. The two had a meeting in Epstein’s office and Gregg apologized, but Epstein is still considering releasing him. Epstein will “sleep on it“.
The Cubs signed Gregg to a Minor League contract in April after the Dodgers released him. Incidentally, Gregg earned a $500,000 performance bonus for reaching his 50th finished game of the season, reports CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
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.