The Houston Astros, to no one’s surprise, are headed to the playoffs. That was confirmed on Friday night as they won 5-0 over the Oakland A’s at home, riding the performances of a pair of mainstays that they can always seemingly count on. Yordan Alvarez was one of them, with the slugger launching three home runs on the evening while Justin Verlander was the other. Verlander, in his return from a short spell on the sidelines due to injury, struck out nine hitters and didn’t allow a single run in five innings pitched.
That makes it six straight wins for the Astros, and it means they are just the second team, along with the LA Dodgers, to have clinched a postseason place so far. Elsewhere, Albert Pujols just kept on mystifying everyone with his recent hitting, knocking his 698th homer over the fence as the St. Louis Cardinals won 6-5 at home over the Cincinnati Reds. It proved to be a pretty big homer in the grand scheme of the game, too as the two-run blast knotted it up at four apiece. The Cards would fall behind again, but they rallied in the seventh with RBI hits from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They then got an immaculate inning in the ninth as closer Ryan Helsley shut the door, getting them a step closer to winning the NL Central that’s been all but theirs for quite some time now.