Jason Vargas returns to disabled list with left flexor strain

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The Royals just announced that left-hander Jason Vargas is headed back to the disabled list due to a recurrence of a left flexor strain.

Vargas struggled with a 5.26 ERA over his first five starts prior to his first stint on the disabled list in early May. He missed three weeks and posted a 2.25 ERA with an 11/1 K/BB ratio in 16 innings over three starts since returning, but apparently he’s still not feeling right.

Vargas was scheduled to start Sunday against the Cardinals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that Chris Young will move up a day to take his place. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez will start Monday’s series opener against the Brewers before Joe Blanton will enter the rotation to start Tuesday. It’s worth noting that Yordano Ventura left last night’s start with irritation in his ulnar nerve, but Yost told McCullough that they don’t believe he’ll have to miss a start.

The Royals called up left-hander Brandon Finnegan to take Vargas’ spot on the active roster.

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.