Tommy Milone was the odd man out in the A’s rotation before today, so there was really no place for him in Oakland following the Jon Lester trade. And now the 27-year-old left-hander is headed to Minnesota is a deal that brings 32-year-old outfielder Sam Fuld back to Oakland.
Fuld has had a very nice season for the Twins, hitting .274 with a .370 on-base percentage and 12 steals in 53 games, but he’s a career .240 hitter with a .323 OBP and Minnesota claimed him off waivers from Oakland in April. In other words, three months ago the A’s didn’t even think Fuld was worth a roster spot. He’s a solid fourth outfielder who can get on base a little bit with good speed and plus defense, but mostly this move speaks to how little the A’s now think of Milone and how worried they are about center field with Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry hurting.
Milone’s numbers with the A’s have been solid, including a 3.84 ERA in 443 innings, but a good defense and a pitcher-friendly ballpark have made him look better than he actually is. He’s a soft-tossing southpaw with a career strikeout rate of 6.5 per nine innings–which certainly fits the Twins’ preferred pitching mold–but he’s closer to a fourth or fifth starter than a mid-rotation guy. Still, to get a useful 27-year-old starting pitcher for a 32-year-old outfielder you claimed off waivers a few months ago is a no-brainer move for Minnesota.
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.