Ray Searage tinkers with Ryan Vogelsong, Juan Nicasio

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered quite the reputation after helping turn around the careers of Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, and J.A. Happ, among others. This past offseason, the Pirates signed Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Nicasio, giving Searage two more projects.

The tutelage is under way. As Dan Zangrilli of CBS Pittsburgh reports, Searage has advised Vogelsong to use his two-seam fastball more often and to pitch inside at a higher frequency. For Nicasio, it was simply about keeping his fastball low in the strike zone. Obviously, we’ll have to wait until the regular season to see if Searage’s advice turns out to have been correct.

Searage, 60, is entering the final year of his contract with the Pirates. He said last month that he would “love to retire as a Pirate”.

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.