As a team whose batting prowess rivals that of the legendary 1927 Yankees, it is fitting that the Astros hitters unloaded on the Angels today, scoring 8 runs with help from homers by Aledmys Diaz, George Springer and Yuli Gurriel.
Meanwhile Gerrit Cole finished his argument to the Cy Young voters that he, and not teammate Justin Verlander, should get the award. Cole got his 20th win of the season, allowing four hits and two walks while allowing only one run, that on a 3rd inning homer by Matt Thaiss. He struck out 10 Angels in five innings, breaking an all-time record for most consecutive games with 10 or more Ks, surpassing Pedro Martinez with 9 in a row.
For the season Cole finished with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts, both leading the league, while his 20 wins are second only to Verlander. His K% of 39.8% is the highest recorded in baseball history, while walking only 5.8% of batters. He has not lost a game since May 22nd, going 22 straight games without a loss while winning 16 of those games. His ERA since May 27th is 1.78.
The Astros began scoring early and often. In the first inning Jose Altuve doubled in George Springer, who started the game with a single.
In the second inning the Astros added two more runs on homers by Aledmys Diaz, his ninth, and Springer, his career high 39th. Springer, number 4, was 4-4 today, and his homer was a moonshot to center measured by Statcast at 444 feet.
Yuli Gurriel tallied two more runs for the Stros with his 31st homer of the season, scoring Alex Bregman, who walked.
The Astros concluded their scoring in the 4th inning on doubles by Springer, Michael Brantley, and a single by Alex Bregman.
The Angels seemed determined to prevent Bregman from advancing his case for MVP over Mike Trout. In the four game series he was walked seven times, although he still managed one home run and two RBI. For the season he beat Trout in runs scored with 122, and RBI, with 112, while finishing four behind Trout in homers with 41.
The Angels managed to tighten the game in the sixth inning on another Thaiss home run, a two run shot off Brad Peacock, who has recently returned from IL and is one of the team’s question marks heading into the playoffs.
Rookie and possible playoff roster candidate Bryan Abreu replaced Peacock and pitched 1.1 hitless innings with three strikeouts.
In the eighth inning the Angels added two more runs off Joe Smith on RBI doubles by Andrelton Simmons and, yes, him again, Matt Thaiss.
Chris Devenski replaced Smith with two outs in the eighth and he and Will Harris finished the eighth and ninth innings respectively without allowing any runs.
The Astros are off until Game One of the ALDS on Friday. They await the outcome of the Wild Card Game Wednesday between the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays to find out who they will oppose.. We will preview that game tomorrow, with some commentary on who might be the tougher opponent for the Astros.
Box score and videos HERE.