Daniel Bard’s story just keeps getting sadder.
The one-time elite setup man has been trying to make a comeback with the Rangers, pitching for their Single-A team, but his extreme control problems have led to 13 runs allowed while recording a grand total of two outs.
Bard walked or plunked 16 of the 18 total batters he faced, and today the Rangers decided they’d seen enough and released the 29-year-old right-hander and his 175.50 ERA.
Bard was a fantastic setup man for the Red Sox as recently as 2011, but he’s now been released by three teams in six months and has regressed to the point that putting him into a game, even versus Single-A hitters, seems almost cruel. What a shame.
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.