UPDATE: According to B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny just announced that Berkman will undergo season-ending surgery on his knee tomorrow. It would be a darn shame to see him go out this way, but he has already hinted at retiring after this season.
10:15 AM: Lance Berkman’s status for the remainder of the season is now in doubt, as Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Cardinals first baseman left the team and traveled to his home in Houston to have his surgically repaired right knee examined by the doctor who performed the operation in May.
Langosch writes that “shutting him down for the season” is a possibility because Berkman has been limited to just six total plate appearances since returning from a disabled list stint for inflammation in his knee five weeks ago.
Berkman has previously indicated that he’s leaning toward retirement after the season, so if the 36-year-old doesn’t get a good diagnosis from the doctor this could be the end of the line for the one of the best and most underrated hitters of this era.
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.