Cliff Lee to make his Mariners debut tonight

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He’s facing the Rangers and he’s more than ready.* He says “my sights have been set on them for several days now. I’m preparing the best I can for them.”

Lee threw six shutout innings during his rehab start for Tacoma on
Sunday, which suggests that the Cliff Lee we’ve seen the last two years
is who we’ll see tonight.  And it couldn’t come a moment too soon. Although the Mariners have gotten great pitching in Lee’s absence, they’re going to need spectacular pitching to overcome their offensive woes this summer. He’ll be on a pitch count tonight, but if he looks strong I wouldn’t expect it to last too terribly long into the season. The Mariners need him too badly.

*I would like to applaud the headline writer at MLB.com for correctly using the phrase “champing at the bit” in the headline of the linked article instead of the more frequent — and totally wrong — “chomping at the bit.”

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

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Thomas Skrlj/Getty Images
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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.