Liriano plays catch, left shoulder checks out fine

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Twins starter Francisco Liriano skipped a scheduled bullpen session Friday because he had a bit of tightness in his throwing shoulder. For a guy with his injury history, any kind of abnormal discomfort is concerning, but he is going to survive this little issue.

According to Phil Mackey of Minneapolis’ ESPN 1500 AM, Liriano checked out fine this morning in an examination by doctors.

He even played catch from 120 feet and told reporters that he is hoping to throw a bullpen session within the next couple of days.

Liriano, 27, went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over 31 starts last season. He struck out an ace-like 201 batters in 191.2 innings and is expected to serve as the Twinkies’ No. 1 starter this year.

Gleeman touched on Liriano’s impending free agency and failed extension talks last week.

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.