I’d even say redonkulous but I said that about someone last week and I should probably conserve my ammo in this regard. But do know this: Felix Hernandez is making hitters look silly. Sillier than he normally does, that is, which is pretty silly itself.
Last night Hernandez pitched circles around the Blue Jays, allowing one run on three hits and striking out eight Jays batters. It was his 16th consecutive start with at least seven innings pitched and two or fewer runs allowed. That’s a record he is continuing to extend. Which, it’s worth noting, was previously held by Chief Bender of all of people. In that 16-start span he is 8-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 134 strikeouts.
Last week I mused about whether a pitcher could or should win the MVP in the National League. While I think that’s far less reasonable an option in the AL, I assume no small amount of people will be thinking along those lines with respect to Hernandez pretty soon. Especially if the Mariners make the playoffs.
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.