Astros “making a strong effort” for Phillies ace Cole Hamels

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported Monday night that the Astros are legitimate suitors for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, and now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is hearing much of the same

Houston looks like a safe bet to contend for a long time, so there should be some attraction there.

Hamels, who is under contract on a relatively good deal through 2019, owns a 3.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 137/39 K/BB ratio in 128 2/3 innings this season for the 37-63, last-place Phillies. He’s coming off a no-hitter Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the first of the 31-year-old’s illustrious major league career.

Hamels would join Dallas Keuchel and Scott Kazmir in an excellent, postseason-ready Astros rotation.

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.