J.C. Romero may bolt Nationals to sign with Yankees

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Veteran left-hander J.C. Romero signed a minor league contract with the Nationals at the end of June. Since then, he’s registered cool a 1.29 ERA in five relief appearances at Triple-A Syracuse, allowing only one earned run in seven innings.

He wants that impressive two-week stretch rewarded by the Nats’ front office. And soon.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Romero’s “intention” is to opt of his contract with the Nationals on July 15 if he is not promoted to the major leagues. The 35-year-old would then sign a minor league deal with the Yankees and report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilke-Barre with the hope of donning pinstripes for the stretch run and possibly the playoffs.

The Nats would do well to promote Romero now, see if he shines in a short stay in the bigs, and then shop him around to reliever-needy teams at the deadline. Just about every contending club could use a lefty reliever.

Romero had a 3.86 ERA and was holding left-handed hitters to a .530 OPS in 24 outings before his release.

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.