Hisashi Iwakuma won’t participate in World Baseball Classic

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Yu Darvish isn’t the only Japanese starting pitcher planning to skip the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

From the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, comes word that Hisashi Iwakuma has decided not to pitch for Japan and “will instead focus on preparing for his second season with the Seattle Mariners.”

Iwakuma inked a two-year, $14 million contract extension with the M’s earlier this month after registering a fantastic 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 101/43 K/BB ratio across 125 1/3 innings in 2012. The deal also includes a $7 million option for 2015.

Darvish and Iwakuma both pitched for Team Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. That group won the country’s second straight title, with Daisuke Matsuzaka earning his second straight tournament MVP.

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.