Astros sign left-hander Erik Bedard to minor league contract

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Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Astros have signed left-hander Erik Bedard to a minor league contract with a spring training invite.

Bedard, who turns 34 in March, posted a 5.01 ERA and 118/56 K/BB ratio over 125 2/3 innings last season with the Pirates. He actually pitched pretty well early on, compiling a 3.26 ERA over his first 12 starts, but he was knocked around to the tune of a 6.98 ERA over his next 12 before being given his release in late August.

Bedard isn’t a good bet to hold up physically, but there’s opportunity with the rebuilding Astros. A solid spring should earn him a rotation spot alongside Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell, Phil Humber and Jordan Lyles. And if all goes well, the Astros could eventually flip him for a prospect.

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.