Lots of history in today's Rays-Blue Jays game

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Some good, some bad.

I’m gonna throw you for a loop and start with the bad. James Shields tied a modern day major league record by giving up six home runs in this afternoon’s 17-11 loss to the Blue Jays. Shields is the eighth pitcher since 1920 to do it and the first since R.A. Dickey as a member of the Rangers in 2006.

There’s something inherently fluky about an outing like this, but the Jays entered the day with more home runs than anyone and Shields has struggled with the gopher ball all year long, so there was obviously the potential for disaster here. That’s pretty much what happened, as the Rays dropped their fourth consecutive game, a season-high.

Okay, now on to the good stuff. The Jays connected for eight home runs this afternoon. According to the fine folks at STATS LLC, the Yankees were the last team to hit eight homers in a game, back on July 31, 2007. Yes, Jose Bautista padded his major league lead with his 34th home run and Aaron Hill hit two homers of his own, but everybody is talking about the major league debut of J.P. Arencibia.

Arencibia, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas after John Buck was placed on the DL this week, went 4-for-5 with two home runs. In fact, he slugged a two-run homer off Shields on the very first pitch he saw in the second inning. He became the first Jays player to homer in his first major league at-bat since Junior Felix on May 4, 1989.

Arencibia later added a solo shot in the sixth. With a single and double, the former 2007 first-round pick finished a triple short of the cycle. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, Arencibia is the first player since 1900 to have two homers and four hits in his first major league game. That’s quite an introduction. I hate using the old Wally Pipp analogy, but Buck might have to take a back seat to Arencibia when he returns.

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.