Pete Mackanin thinks trade rumors are affecting Cole Hamels

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Cole Hamels was blasted for a career-high nine runs and 12 hits over 3 1/3 innings Friday in a loss to the Giants. The final blow was a grand slam by Hunter Pence in an eight-run fourth inning. It was Hamels’ shortest start since 2011.

With trade rumors swirling, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin told Alex Espinosa of CSNPhilly.com that he thinks the constant speculation is weighing on Hamels.

“I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen him pitch like that,” Mackanin said, adding that Hamels had trouble controlling his secondary pitches. “There’s a lot going on and it affected him. But I know he’s much better than that. Who knows, he might pressing knowing that the trading deadline is coming around. There’s so many little things that players think about that you can’t control.”

Hamels stopped short of confirming what Mackanin said, but he acknowledged that this season has been a major challenge.

“It’s not a year that you can ever prepare for,” Hamels said. “No amount of experience can put you into that sort of situation. My job is to be able to go throw the baseball and do it as best I possibly can, and the way I know I’m capable of doing.

“But you do have a lot of things that are out of your control. So, you have to realize that you can’t make it something you can control. There are a lot of different variables that are going on.”

Hamels’ ERA jumped from 3.02 to 3.63 with last night’s clunker, so he has been pitching really well despite the constant speculation about his future. The 31-year-old has struck out 25.1 percent of the batters he has faced this season, which is the best mark of his career. Still, he’s not a robot. The lack of run support gives him very little margin for error and he’d surely prefer to be dealt to a contender sooner rather than later. It’s a tough spot.

Things have been pretty quiet on the trade front in recent days, but look for that to pick up in a big way as we move closer to July 31.

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.