Matt Kemp cleared for more baseball activities

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Matt Kemp will almost certainly miss the start of the regular season as he works his way back from left ankle surgery, but he’s making some tangible progress.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Kemp will be allowed to do more baseball drills after an MRI yesterday came back favorable. It’s possible that he’ll start doing some running, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that he’s at “Step Five” of a seven-step rehab and that there’s still no clear timetable for his return.

The Dodgers have the luxury of quality depth in their outfield, so there’s no need for Kemp to rush things for Opening Day. As of now, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford project to begin the year as regulars.

UPDATE: More good news from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, who reports that Kemp tested his ankle by running today.

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.