The Rays are willing to press their luck with James Loney

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James Loney’s 2013 season was a pleasant surprise. And it sounds like the Rays are prepared to gamble that it, and not his miserable 2012 is more representative of what he’ll do going forward. The Tampa Tribune reports that the Rays are interested in re-signing their first baseman and Loney reportedly has an interest of staying in Tampa Bay too.

Loney was a bargain on a one-year, $2 million deal for 2013. He’ll likely command some interest on the free agent market this winter, but not excessive interest given that he’s a known quantity to most teams by now. When his average is up that and his good defense make him a useful, although by no means superior first baseman. When his average is down he’s a drag on your team.

That’s probably worth more than $2 million but less than bank-breaking dollars in this day and age. And if everyone is happy with that, it’s a decent enough match.

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.