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Astros clinch the AL West


The Astros clinched the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a 7-1 victory over the Mariners. It marks the Astros’ first division title since 2001 when they were in the NL Central. They will be back in the postseason for the first time since 2015.

Justin Verlander delivered another strong start, holding the Mariners to one run on three hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts over seven innings. He has given up a total of two runs and 10 hits in three starts since the Astros acquired him from the Tigers at the end of August.

On offense, Derek Fisher, Marwin Gonzalez, George Springer, and Carlos Correa each homered. Every regular in the lineup except Carlos Beltran had at least one hit.

The 91-58 Astros still have meaningful baseball left to play as they are battling the 92-57 Indians for the best record in the American League, which would earn them home field advantage in the playoffs.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been diagnosed with a fractured left hand, per a report from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, adds The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, and is expected miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks in recovery before he’s cleared to throw again. In a best-case scenario, the lefty will be ready to pitch again before the All-Star break, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. The Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”