Gurriel homers twice as Astros punch playoff ticket
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros toasted a playoff berth in a private moment, and then moved on to their next goal.
"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," right-hander Gerrit Cole said. "But we've got some more work to do."
Yuli Gurriel hit a grand slam and a two-run homer on his way to a career-high seven RBIs, and the Astros secured a spot in the postseason with an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
George Springer added a three-run shot in the eighth for the Astros, who are still looking to secure the AL West title. The defending World Series champions maintained a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Oakland, which beat Minnesota 7-6 in 10 innings.
Cole (15-5) allowed three hits and three runs in seven innings in his fifth straight win. He also struck out 12, giving him 1,006 for his career and moving him in front of teammate Justin Verlander (269) for most in the AL this season with 272.
Gurriel hit his third career grand slam in the first inning. He connected for his 12th homer against Andrew Heaney (9-10) in the third and singled in Tyler White in the fifth.
It was his first career multihomer game. His brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr. also homered twice for Toronto on Friday night, marking the first time in major league history that brothers had multihomer games on the same day.
"My parents were so happy that they didn't know what to do with themselves, hearing the great news," Yuli Gurriel said through a translator. "Sometimes I have a good game and sometimes he has a good game, but for us to have a great game together is very special."
Gurriel's seven RBIs were the most for a Houston player since J.R. Towles set a franchise record with eight 11 years ago on Friday.
Mike Trout homered for the second straight game for the Angels, who lost their third in a row. They allowed 42 runs combined in those three losses.
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman hit consecutive singles with one out in the first and Heaney walked Marwin Gonzalez to load the bases. Gurriel then belted an opposite-field shot to right field.
Gonzalez walked again with one out in the third before Gurriel drove an 81-mph curveball into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Heaney allowed six runs in three innings.
"At the wrong times, he hung some pitches and those guys didn't miss them," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had eight baserunners in three innings, so he was a little out of sorts and they turned the page on him."
Jose Fernandez doubled with two outs in the sixth before Trout's 37th homer cut Houston's lead to 7-2. Andrelton Simmons tripled with one out in the seventh and scored on a single by Francisco Arcia.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa was out of the lineup and manager A.J. Hinch said he'll sit out until at least Monday as he continues to deal with soreness in his lower back. "Carlos is still not right," Hinch said. "He's played through it and it hasn't worked out." Correa was on the disabled list from June 26-Aug. 10 and has struggling since his return, hitting just .174 in with one homer and 13 RBIs in 34 games.
Cole's strikeouts are the fourth-most in franchise history. He said it was special to reach 1,000 career strikeouts.
"The guys took a moment tonight to recognize it and that meant a lot," he said. "There are a lot of really professional and special arms in this room so that kind of keeps you in perspective."
THEY SAID IT
Hinch on the team teasing Yuli Gurriel in the dugout as they watched what his brother was doing: "I think he was trying to keep up with his brother. Every time they kept putting the fantasy numbers up on the board he came up with another RBI, another homer, another hit. We had some fun with him."
Verlander (16-9, 2.67 ERA) opposes Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.61 ERA) when the series continues Saturday night. Verlander has won his last three starts and needs just one strikeout to set a career high. Barria is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts against the Astros this season.
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Updated September 22, 2018