Jake Westbrook, NCAA bracket aficionado

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westbrook posing.JPGJake Westbrook may have missed the entire 2009 season due to Tommy John surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s off the map in Cleveland. 

The right-hander clinched a “Celebrity Bracket Challange” over the weekend hosted by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, beating out local VIPs like the Browns’ Josh Cribbs, the Cavaliers’ Mo Williams and Kosta Koufos, a former Ohio State Basketball player.  Westbrook’s bracket has only one Final Four team intact — West Virginia — but that’s enough to win most bracket challenges in what has been a wild NCAA Tournament.

For reference: Duke, Butler and Michigan State will be joining the Mountaineers in Indianapolis next weekend for college basketball’s biggest prize.

Westbrook’s prize for winning the Plain-Dealer’s bracket pick ’em?  Well, we’re not sure.  But the right-hander has compiled a 2-0 record and a 4.86 ERA in 16 2/3 innings of Cactus League play this spring and has recaptured his spot atop the Tribe’s starting rotation.  That’s gotta be worth something.

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.