Almost exactly one year ago Rangers left-hander Michael Kirkman completed treatment for skin cancer, but the team announced yesterday that he’s been diagnosed with a recurrence of cutaneous lymphoma on his right triceps following a recent screening.
Chris Toman of MLB.com reports that Kirkman will undergo radiation treatment and has been placed on the disabled list, with the hope that he’ll be able to continue throwing and potentially rejoin the team in just a few weeks.
Kirkman, who’s been struggling on the mound and asked to take some time off after the diagnosis, said:
It’s just kind of one of those things. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise. I can take a step back, take a mental break and work some bugs out.
That’s a pretty amazing attitude to have in the face of such adversity.
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.