A.J. Burnett rocked for 12 runs in this season’s worst pitching performance

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A.J. Burnett pitched well in his first two starts after returning from a fractured orbital bone, coming off the disabled list with seven shutout innings on April 21 and then tossing six innings of two-run ball on April 27.

Those seven scoreless frames came against St. Louis, but last night that same Cardinals lineup clobbered Burnett for 12 runs in 2.2 innings as his ERA rose from 1.38 to 8.04.

In taking the ugly loss Burnett becomes the first pitcher this season (and the first pitcher in nearly an entire calendar year) to allow a dozen or more runs. Jaime Garcia was the last to do so on May 28 of last year and Vin Mazzaro also allowed 14 runs in a game last season, but amazingly did so in a relief appearance as the Royals basically just made him serve as a punching bag.

During the past 10 seasons a pitcher has allowed 12 or more runs a total of just 11 times, including zero instances in 2009, 2004, and 2002. Jason Marquis and Jon Garland remarkably both accomplished that feat twice in that time, which I suppose gives Burnett something to do shoot for.

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.