Matt Kemp’s name has been appearing in trade rumors. Not super strong ones, but he’s been talked about as an option for the Mariners and some other teams in need of a bat. Only problem? The bat has not been too fantastic over the past couple of years. At least not as fantastic as it was when he earned the gigantic contract he’s under right now.
GMs are usually smart enough not to put too much stock in small or recent samples when assessing a player, but if any aren’t, the Dodgers had better hope they were watching last night’s game against the Braves. That’s because Kemp went off, going 3 for 4 with two homers and four RBI. The homers weren’t cheapies. The first one barely cleared the wall — bounced on top of it actually — but it was to the opposite field. The second was to dead center.
Of course they also were his first homers in over a month. And his health and defensive prowess — not to mention the money he’s owed — are still kind of a big deal. But will someone bite? Maybe not. But they may at least sniff a little after last night’s performance.
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.