Jose Altuve would’ve hit for the cycle, but he tripped

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Entering the top of the sixth inning of Saturday’s game against the Royals, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve already had a single, double, and a home run, leaving him just a triple shy of the cycle. With an 0-2 count against Chien-Ming Wang, Altuve hit the ball exactly where he needed to: in the gap in left-center.

Center fielder Lorenzo Cain and left fielder Alex Gordon converged, and it was Cain who came up with the ball. It looked like a sure-fire triple, but there was just one problem: Altuve tripped as he prepared to round the second base bag. The three-time All-Star settled for another double, but he was guaranteed at least one more at-bat before the end of the game. Altuve, however, grounded out in the eighth inning, finishing 4-for-5 and a triple shy of the cycle. He would have been the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013.

To Altuve’s credit, he laughed about it, as did many of his teammates.

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Altuve is batting an outstanding .348/.427/.567 with 13 home runs, 44 RBI, 54 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases on the year.

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.