The Yankees and Damon are totally splitsville

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No matter how many times we heard the reports that the Yankees were going to stick to a budget and couldn’t give more than a couple million bucks to Johnny Damon, you always got the sense that those two kids would make it work. After all, just because the Yankees allegedly have a budget doesn’t mean they don’t have the money. And hey, they made Andy Pettitte cool his heels until late January last year, so maybe they’re doing the same thing with old Johnny D.

But now it really does seem over:

“Don’t bother paying attention,” general manager Brian Cashman said of
chatter linking the Yankees and Damon. “Johnny’s physical abilities
exceed our financial abilities at this point in time.”

Damon’s
agent, Scott Boras, was unavailable for comment. Meanwhile, reached by
text message on Tuesday night, Damon also said talks never got off the
ground since the Yankees’ mid-December acquisition of Nick Johnson.

“Never started again,” Damon said of any negotiations. “They have their budget.”

Yankees
manager Joe Girardi refused to rule out a return, though he expressed
his doubts candidly: “I don’t see it getting done.”

Boras was unavailable for comment? The fact that even he can’t figure out a way to spin this situation may be the most revealing thing I’ve heard in weeks.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.