Paul Splittorff loses his battle with cancer

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Given the news we heard last week, this was inevitable, but no less sad: Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff died this morning, losing his battle with melanoma and oral cancer.

Splittorff was the quintessential crafty lefty, never overpowering hitters but always finding a way.  His durability and effectiveness led him to become the all-time leader in victories for the Royals. He was a fixture in their rotation from the days right after they entered the league and he played a huge role for them as they rose to the top of the AL West and, in many ways, became the premiere organization in the American League.

Splittorff amassed a career mark of 166-143 with a 3.81 ERA and pitched well in multiple playoff series for the Royals. His final years were spent as a broadcaster for the team.

He was 64-years-old.

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.