The heroic struggle of Ed Hearn

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Folks my age and older might remember Ed Hearn, if not for his role as a dependable backup catcher for the 1986 Mets than at least for his presence in the trade that sent him to Kansas City in exchange for one David Cone.  That resume may be the sort of thing that keeps a guy in free lunches and attaboys during his retirement, but for Ed Hearn, baseball is but a tiny footnote in his life story:

As the baseball postseason unfolds this month, heroes will be
anointed, and star players feted. Nobody will say a word about Hearn,
who isn’t the best ballplayer to play in this city, but may be the most
courageous, and the most selfless.

At 49, Hearn has been through three kidney transplants, 25
surgeries, three dozen carcinomas and courses of radiation. He takes 20
medications a day, running his lifetime pill total to about 140,000.
When he was first diagnosed in the early 1990s, he was so distraught
that he went down to the basement with a loaded gun, and wrote a
suicide note to his wife, Trish.

Now he says it is his love for Trish, and their son, Cody, and his faith, that keeps him going.

Harrowing stuff indeed, turned uplifting by Hearn’s courage and equanimity in the face of something that would make even the strongest among us wilt.  If nothing else, it’s a story that truly puts baseball in perspective.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.