Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca has the breaking news:
The Toronto Blue Jays expect Brett Lawrie to be ready for opening day, but a mild strain near the third baseman’s 10th rib and left intercostal muscle forced him to withdraw from Canada’s entry to the World Baseball Classic on Friday.
Lawrie, a native of Langley, British Columbia, suffered the injury Wednesday during Team Canada’s 12-2 exhibition loss to the Reds.
“Hopefully it’s two weeks,” Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday. “He’s been through it. He said what he had last year was 10 times worse than this, but he knows. … Obviously there was something there and he was smart. He felt something going to his left on a ground ball and something on a swing.”
Lawrie, 23, has hit .278/.336/.446 with 20 homers and 73 RBI in his first 168 major league games.
Team Canada is expected to replace him at the hot corner with the Brewers’ Taylor Green.
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.