Rockies can buck trend, get off to a good April start

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The Rockies are known more for late-season charges than they are fast beginnings.  In fact, they’ve had a losing record in April in each of the last four seasons.  But that could all change this year.

As Jack Etkin at Inside The Rockies notes, the club plays only three games in April against a team that had a record better than .500 last season.

The Rox kick off their 2011 schedule with a series against the Diamondbacks (65-97), then come the Dodgers (80-82), Pirates (57-105), Mets (79-83), Cubs (75-87), Giants (92-70), Marlins (80-82), Cubs and Pirates.  Only the World Series champion Giants finished in the black in 2010.

Baseball is a weird sport — hard to predict, at least — and anything can happen, but all signs point to the young and talented Rockies getting off to a healthy start this season.  It would be a refreshing sight for Colorado fans, who have watched the team go 189-221 in April since first forming 18 years ago.

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.