Joe Blanton is back in the majors

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The Royals announced this afternoon that they have called up right-hander Joe Blanton from Triple-A Omaha. He’s now back in the majors for the first time since 2013.

Blanton didn’t pitch last season outside of two appearances with the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate. The 34-year-old signed on with the Royals over the winter and remained with the organization after failing to make the Opening Day roster. He posted a 3.89 ERA and 30/10 K/BB ratio in 39 1/3 innings over six starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A. His minor league contract had an opt-out clause on Friday, so the Royals decided to bring him up rather than let him walk.

Blanton owns a 5.09 ERA dating back to 2010, so it’s hard to expect much, but he’ll likely only be counted on to pitch in middle relief.

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.