Clay Buchholz on track for September 4 return

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Boston’s rotation is about to get a massive boost.

According to beat writer Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, right-hander Clay Buchholz is slated to make his first minor league rehab start on Sunday afternoon with Low-A Lowell and a second rehab start on Friday night. If both of those outings go well, he will likely be cleared to rejoin the Red Sox five days later — on September 4 — for the series finale of a big three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.

Buchholz opened the 2013 season with a 9-0 record, 1.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over his first 84 1/3 innings (12 starts), but he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 8 due to neck and shoulder issues.

The Red Sox are currently tied with the Rays atop the American League East standings.

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.