Jaime Garcia, Jason Motte nearing rehab games

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The Cardinals announced Tuesday night, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that injured pitchers Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte have been cleared to begin minor league rehab assignments this weekend with Double-A Springfield.

Garcia is set to make the first of what will likely be several rehab starts on Sunday against the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 2013 because of chronic shoulder troubles and the Cardinals can’t be sure of what they’re going to get from him this year.

Motte is on his way back from Tommy John elbow surgery. At almost 12 months removed from the procedure, he’s hitting just 92-93 mph with his fastball. Motte averaged 96.8 mph with his fastball in 2012, and he could spend quite a bit of time in the minor leagues considering how much of his past effectiveness relied on throwing heat.

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.