Carlos Ruiz aims to begin rehabbing next week

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Carlos Ruiz will head to Clearwater, Florida to take batting practice and work on blocking baseballs for a few days with the intent of beginning a rehab assignment on Friday, according to Corey Seidman of CSN Philly. Ruiz has been out since June 26, when he was hit in the head by a pitch against the Marlins.

Ruiz, 35, is in the first year of a three-year, $26 million contract signed last November. The catcher hasn’t shown much power, but has been their best player in the on-base department. In 273 plate appearances, he has two home runs, 14 RBI, and a .257/.363/.357 slash line.

Ruiz’s back-up, Wil Nieves, has been out since June 19 with a strained quad. As a result, the Phillies have had to resort to utilizing their third- and fourth-string catchers, Cameron Rupp and Koyie Hill.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.