Escobar remains out of Braves' starting lineup

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escobar throwing.jpgDave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar is out of the starting lineup for a third straight game Sunday with a strained left abductor. 

Veteran manager Bobby Cox has hinted at the idea of Escobar landing on the 15-day disabled list, but a that all depends on how well the infielder responds to treatment over the next two or three days.  If he shows little progress and is still unavailable by the middle of next week, a short stint on the DL would probably be for the best. 

Omar Infante is filling in for Escobar and managed three hits during Saturday’s game against the Astros.  The Braves might also call up Triple-A infielder Brandon Hicks.  Escobar, 27, is batting just .215 with a .295 on-base percentage through 22 games this year.  He has zero home runs, two stolen bases and eight RBI.

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.