It's Yuli's world, we're just living in it. And in Yuli's world, he's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man traipsing through the Angels' streets and wrecking everything he can find. Gurriel went 3x4 with two home runs and 7RBI as the Astros whooped the Angels 11-3. Oakland is now 13-5 in extra-inning games after beating Minnesota in the 10th inning. The Astros are 96-57 with a 3.5-game lead and nine games to play.
If Houston goes 5-4, Oakland would have to go 8-0 to tie the division. 6-3 is enough to clinch it, which is exactly what FanGraphs projects for the remaining nine games.
The Astros did, however, at least clinch a playoff spot and are headed to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since 2004-05. It's the 12th postseason berth for the Astros in franchise history, third in the last four years. Gerrit Cole:
You've got to take it step by step so it's nice to acknowledge and celebrate it because you don't take it for granted. But we've got some more work to do.
The Astros celebrated the berth with a toast in the clubhouse from Jim Crane, Reid Ryan, Jeff Luhnow, and A.J. Hinch, and then got back to work. Hinch:
Our work isn't finished.
*Gurriel hit a grand slam in the 1st inning. The 7RBI are obviously a career-high and the most for an Astro in a game since Once and Future King J.R. Towles had 8RBI in an 18-1 win over St. Louis on September 20, 2007. He had 4RBI in a game five previous times. It's his third career grand slam, first since June 24, 2018. Last night was his first 2HR game. Gurriel's brother Lourdes also hit two home runs for Toronto last night, marking the first time in MLB history that brothers recorded multi-HR games on the same day.
*George Springer was 1x4 with a walk and a three-run homer, his 21st of the season. In five seasons Springer has hit 20+ home runs four times.
*Marwin was 1x2 with 2BB. It was his 8th 2BB game of the year.
*Gerrit Cole threw 7IP, 6H/3ER, 12K:0BB, and has pulled ahead of Justin Verlander for the team lead in strikeouts, 272-269. Cole's 272 strikeouts are now the 4th-highest in a single season in franchise history, two ahead of Nolan Ryan in 1987. Verlander is 6th, one behind Ryan.
*Cole, 10+ strikeouts / 0 walks, career:
Cole recorded his 1000th career strikeout. He's now 48th on the active strikeouts list. Cole:
The guys took a moment tonight to recognize it and that meant a lot. There are a lot of really professional and special arms in this room so that kind of keeps you in perspective.
Cole reached 1000 strikeouts 12th-fastest in MLB history.
*Tony Sipp, September: 4.1IP, 2H/0ER, 6K:3BB. He has retired 14 of the last 18 batters he has faced. Check this Chronicle story about his turnaround 2018 season.
*The Astros are headed for an ALDS showdown with Cleveland.
*Lance McCullers will rejoin the team today, though he won't pitch until Monday.
*Carlos Correa won't play this weekend. Hinch:
Carlos is still not right. We're going to give him a complete break this weekend to see if we can get him feeling better. We talked to the doctors, the doctors talked to Carlos, he just still is symptomatic. His back is bothering him, he hasn't felt completely himself for a while.
Don't miss Tyler Stafford's article in The Athletic on how there's no quick fix to Correa's struggles. It may be April 2019 before Correa actually looks right.
*Jake Kaplan has some breaking news that Mike Fast, one of the key members of the front office, will not renew his contract when it expires in October. Fast:
It was time to move on, and I'm looking for other opportunities. I definitely would like to latch on with another team.
It is unknown what prompted Fast to seek employment elsewhere.
*Check out MK Bower in Forbes on the emergence of Josh Big Flames James and the possibility of finding himself on the postseason roster.
*Meet Nunee Oakes, Astros DJ.
*Levi Weaver notes that Jeff Banister's communication style didn't resonate with younger players.