Cubs designate Bryan LaHair for assignment

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Bryan LaHair batted .286/.364/.519 with 14 home runs over his first 74 games this season for the Cubs and was named to the NL All-Star team in early July.

Four months later, he’s out of the major leagues.

According to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, the Cubs designated LaHair for assignment on Tuesday night so that he can pursue an opportunity in Japan. He hasn’t signed with an NPB team yet, but indications are that he will at some point in the near future.

LaHair was selected by the Mariners in the 39th round of the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft, then toiled away in the minor leagues for several seasons before finally being granted everyday playing time this past summer in Chicago. That steady climb through baseball’s professional ranks will now shift overseas, where LaHair’s raw power could make him a fan favorite.

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.