Cubs sign Brian Matusz to a minor league deal

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Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs have signed lefty reliever Brian Matusz to a minor league deal. Matusz was traded from the Orioles to the Braves last month but was immediately designated for assignment and later released.

Matusz, 29, battled a back injury so he only made seven appearances for the Orioles. In six innings, he gave up eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks with only one strikeout.

Though Matusz didn’t work out as a starter for the Orioles, he found his calling pitching in relief. From 2013-15, he posted a 3.32 ERA in 151 2/3 innings. Over his career, he has held left-handed hitters to a .627 OPS, so he could prove to be a useful left-handed, one-out guy (LOOGY) for the Cubs.

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.