Getty Images

The Astros could clinch the AL West on Sunday

3 Comments

A division title wasn’t in the cards for the Astros on Saturday. The team got off to a hot start: Dallas Keuchel fended off the Mariners for five scoreless innings and the offense built a six-run lead, relying on key hits from Derek Fisher, George Springer, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran to distance themselves from their third-place rivals.

In fact, everything looked hunky-dory until the sixth, when Jean Segura ripped a 1-1 slider into the left field stands to spoil the shutout. Robinson Cano kicked off a four-run rally in the eighth, followed by Mitch Haniger‘s two-out, ninth-inning blast, but in the end, it was too little, too late. Beltran and Reddick returned with a pair of RBI hits to preserve the advantage and Joe Musgrove shut the door in the ninth, battling through a seven-pitch at-bat to catch Cano swinging to end the game.

Just as the Indians needed a Twins’ loss in order to clinch their division, however, the Astros couldn’t secure the AL West on their own. Clinching on Saturday would have necessitated an Angels’ loss to the Rangers — something their division rivals just weren’t willing to do. Parker Bridwell stymied the Rangers’ offense through six strong frames and the bullpen chased his quality start with three innings of no-hit ball to complete the shutout. Justin Upton, meanwhile, supplied the whole of the Angels’ offense with a pair of home runs — his 30th and 31st shots of the season.

With the Angels’ win, the Astros will sit tight until they get another shot to wrap things up on Sunday. It’s not a bad day for clinching, either, with newly-minted ace Justin Verlander set to make his final home start of the regular season. He’ll go up against the Mariners’ Andrew Moore at 2:10 ET as Houston hunts for the sweep and the division title.

Video: Jorge Soler launches first home run of spring training

Jorge Soler
Associated Press
2 Comments

The Royals and Rangers played the first game of spring training today. A few other teams (the Red Sox, Tigers and Twins) played or are currently playing college squads, but Kansas City-Texas is our first matchup of big league teams. Baseball’s back, baby! And you know what baseball means?

Kansas City’s Jorge Soler, who hit 48 homers last year to lead the American League, offered us the year’s first glimpse at recreational baseball murder when he took Kolby Allard out over the left field yard.

Mmm. That’s the good stuff. Here’s to eight and a half months more of that. Bring me the dingers.

Follow @StelliniTweets.