Scott Kazmir appears to be the front-runner for Cleveland’s fifth starter spot

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I noted the general enthusiasm surrounding Scott Kazmir when I was at Indians camp last week. Now a guy who is at Indians camp every day notes that this enthusiasm has grown to the point where, in his view, the fifth starter’s spot on the Tribe is Kazmir’s to lose. Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal:

Francona has offered few hints as to which way he is leaning, if he’s leaning at all. The only clue that he might favor one pitcher over another is his continuous glowing praise for Kazmir, virtually from the first time he threw a ball in camp. And Kazmir certainly seems like the front-runner, even if one disregards Francona’s tributes.

One just needs to look at the numbers. Kazmir has pitched three times in exhibition games and one B-game against minor leaguers. He hasn’t allowed any runs and his peripherals look solid. Granted it hasn’t all been against top opposition, but his velocity and control looks good.

Kazmir could flame out again and, if he does, the Indians haven’t really lost a thing. But if he’s even an average starter in 2013 it’s a huge boon to them. And to him too.

 

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.