Minnesota wasted little time finding a new veteran catcher, adding free agent Kurt Suzuki one day after trading Ryan Doumit to Atlanta.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Suzuki and the Twins have agreed to a one-year deal and the 30-year-old will compete with rookie Josmil Pinto for playing time behind the plate. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says the contract is worth $2.75 million.
Suzuki is a better fit than Doumit for the Twins’ roster because he actually has a good defensive reputation, whereas Doumit is truly a designated hitter with lots of experience behind the plate. On the other hand Suzuki hasn’t really hit since 2009 or so and was pretty brutal offensively for the past two seasons with a combined .234 batting average and .614 OPS in 212 games for the A’s and Nationals.
Minnesota would clearly like Pinto to emerge as the regular catcher and he has promising offensive potential, but Pinto has some Doumit-like question marks defensively and odds are Suzuki will find his way into Ron Gardenhire’s lineup plenty.
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.