U.S. crushes World team in Futures Game

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When the Futures Game rosters were announced last month, the difference in the pitching staffs appeared dramatic; the U.S. was littered with big-time arms featuring first-round pedigree. The World team just didn’t match up.

So, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that the U.S. beat up on the World’s second-tier pitchers Sunday in running away with a 17-5 victory.

The World squad was able to take an early lead. Shortstop phenom Jurickson Profar (Tex) homered off Jake Odorizzi (KC) in the first, and Jae-Hoon Ha (ChC) hit a two-run blast off Gerrit Cole (Pit) in the second. Ha’s shot was a big surprise, as the defensive-minded center fielder came in with just three homers on the season. A sac fly from Oscar Taveras (StL) made it 4-0 in the top of the third.

From there, it was all U.S.A. Billy Hamilton (Cin), the fastest player in the minors, showed his wheels with a two-run triple hit over the head of Ha in center. Here’s the video. Ha misjudged the ball initially, and Hamilton seemed to think it’d be caught off the bat. If he had gone full bore from the start, he might have turned into an inside-the-park job with his speed.

The U.S. squad kept racking up singles and doubles from there before Nick Castellanos (Det) homered in the sixth to make it 15-5.

Ariel Pena (LAA) took the worst of it for the World team, giving up eight runs in one-third of an inning. Julio Rodriguez (Phi) gave up Castellanos’ homer and allowed three runs — two earned — in his innings. Chris Reed (LAD) gave up four runs — two earned — in an inning. The most impressive World team pitcher was starter Yordano Ventura (KC). He hit 100 mph a couple of times on the fast Kansas City gun and retired all three batters he faced.

The U.S pitchers weren’t exactly dominant. All seven guys to work a full inning gave up at least one hit. After Odorizzi and Cole allowed their homers, Danny Hultzen (Sea) surrendered another run in the third. Dylan Bundy (Bal), the one guy everyone wanted to see, gave up three hits in the fourth, but escaped with a scoreless inning. Taijuan Walker (Sea) looked the best of the bunch today. He allowed one hit while working a scoreless seventh. Matt Barnes (Bos) finished the game. After entering with one down and none on in the ninth, he threw two pitches and got two outs.

The offensive star was Castellanos. The third-base prospect had two singles and a walk to go along with his home run. Chris Singleton (Hou) also had three hits. Hometown hero Wil Myers (KC) played the entire game and went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Many of the Royals fans in attendance would probably like to see him step in for Jeff Francoeur after the break.

For the World team. Profar went 2-for-3 with the homer before stepping aside for Francisco Lindor (Cle). Since the World team was overloaded with shortstops, Jean Segura (LAA) played second base, his old position, and went 2-for-3. Ha ended up 2-for-2 before being replaced.

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.