It was one thing when underperformers like Domonic Brown were complaining about Ryne Sandberg’s decisions. But now Cole Hamels is. At least in a passive-aggressive fashion. From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
Cole Hamels appeared none too happy with Sandberg’s decision to remove him from Tuesday night’s game after giving up a game-tying home run (on his 84th pitch) to lead off the eighth inning . . . After the game, Hamels employed some textbook passive aggressiveness in confirming what his body language told everybody in the ballpark as he left the mound: He was perturbed that Sandberg did not let him stay in the game.
“Um, I just think it was a good game and we were able to win,” said Hamels as he pointedly dodged a question about why he was so visibly upset upon leaving the game.
He had only thrown 84 pitches. But at the same time, he had escaped a jam of his own devising in the seventh and had just given up the lead. And his team won. His team has won a lot lately, actually, against some good teams. One would think that would buy Sandberg a little slack, but I guess not.
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.