Shaun Marcum pulled from Mets’ spring rotation so that he can “strengthen his shoulder”

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MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo has the story:

Right-hander Shaun Marcum has temporarily stepped out of the Mets’ Grapefruit League rotation, but is not injured. [Manager Terry Collins] said Marcum wants to concentrate on a long-toss program designed to strengthen his shoulder, which gave him trouble last spring. He will return to game action in early to mid-March.

The Mets aren’t calling it a setback, but it definitely is. Marcum allowed four hits and three earned runs over two innings Saturday in his Grapefruit League debut against the Nationals and clearly isn’t anywhere close to full health.

Marcum dealt with both elbow and shoulder issues in 2012 and was limited to 124 innings.

He signed a one-year, $4 million free agent contract with the Mets this offseason.

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.