Rafael Betancourt initially indicated that he planned to try rest and rehab after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, but now the 39-year-old Rockies reliever has changed his mind.
Betancourt explained to a Venezuelan newspaper that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery because “they told me there was little chance of recovery with current treatment” and “it would be sad to come to the end of my career this way, after all I’ve been through.”
Even if his recovery from surgery goes well Betancourt will likely miss all of next season and at his age he may never come back to pitch in the big leagues. And the injury means the Rockies will decline his $4.25 million option for 2014, so it’s doubly bad timing for the late-blooming reliever who turned into a very good closer after not making his big-league debut until age 28.
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.