Justin Verlander got shelled again

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Is it time to panic in Detroit? Maybe not about the whole team — the Royals are hot and the Tigers are not and those things go back and forth all year — but Justin Verlander is definitely giving Tigers fans cause for concern.

Verlander was tagged for seven runs in six innings by the Royals. He allowed only one hit over the first three innings, but as has become custom for the former MVP, things blew up in the middle innings. Here it was the fifth, where he have up four runs on six hits. And it could’ve been worse but for Billy Butler being thrown out at home to end the inning. Verlander gave up three more runs in the sixth. His earned run totals over his past seven starts: 7, 7, 5, 3, 6, 5, 5.

As of now, Verlander’s ERA — 4.98 — is 91st among 99 qualifiers in the majors this year. While, according to the eye-test anyway, Verlander looks normal, something is definitely not right, be it mechanical, physical or mental.

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.