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Britton and Jansen win Reliever of the Year Awards

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Orioles’ left-hander Zach Britton and Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen received accolades as the AL and NL Relievers of the Year during a ceremony preceding Game 4 of the World Series.

The 2016 awards ceremony represents just the third year in which MLB has recognized the top bullpen arms in each respective league. From 2005 to 2013, one outstanding relief pitcher was selected for the Delivery Man of the Year Award, with previous winners including 2013 nominee Craig Kimbrel and three-time winner Mariano Rivera. Since 2014, the NL winner has been presented with the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award, while the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award goes to the best AL relief pitcher.

Britton was a force to be reckoned with in 2016, logging 67 innings for the Orioles with an 0.54 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 47 saves. His ERA ranks lowest among any Reliever of the Year winner to date, eclipsing even Fernando Rodney‘s mark of 0.60 during the 2012 season. He also set a new record for the lowest ERA among any pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched in a single season.

Jansen converted 47 saves for the Dodgers alongside a 1.83 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 9.45 was the highest among MLB relievers in both leagues, and his second-half 0.70 WHIP and 10.60 K/BB rate were instrumental as the Dodgers chased their fourth consecutive NL West championship.

President of The Hartford and award sponsor Doug Elliot helped Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred deliver the awards on Saturday evening, and had this to say about the two relievers:

Congratulations to Zach Britton and Kenley Jansen for their outstanding performances this season. Zach and Kenley consistently deliver for their teams during the biggest moments of a game. At The Hartford, we are committed to doing the same for our customers by ensuring they prevail when the unexpected happens.

Blue Jays clinch 1st playoff spot since 2016, beat Yanks 4-1

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Hyun Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings and the Toronto Blue Jays clinched their first postseason spot since 2016, beating the Yankees 4-1 Thursday night and further damaging New York’s chances of hosting a first-round playoff series.

New York lost for the fourth time in five games and remained two games behind the slumping White Sox for the fourth seed. Chicago lost 5-4 at Cleveland, its fifth straight defeat.

Toronto secured at least an AL wild-card spot and ensured its eighth trip overall to the postseason.

Blue Jays players embraced on the diamond at their temporary home of Sahlen Field in Buffalo after Rafael Dolis struck out Aaron Hicks to end it.

The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by two games for second place in the AL East. Both teams have three games remaining. Toronto hosts Baltimore in Buffalo while the Yankees host the Marlins.

New York failed to hit a homer for the fourth straight game, matching its longest streak since June 2016. It’s the first time the Yankees have failed to homer in a four-game series since doing so at Texas in July 2013.

New York loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez flied out to deep center, where Randal Grichuk made a leaping catch at the wall.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. homered for Toronto.

Ryu (5-2) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Luke Voit and Hicks hit back-to-back singles to begin the sixth but Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out and retired Gio Urshela on a groundball.

Dolis got four outs for his fifth save in six chances.

Ryu became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher since Aug. 22, 2019, to pitch into the seventh, pitching around Clint Frazier‘s leadoff single by setting down the next three, including pinch-hitter Aaron Judge. The left-hander lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.69.

Guerrero opened the scoring with a solo homer off left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-3) in the second, his eighth.

The Blue Jays extended their lead when Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette hit back-to-back, two-out doubles in the third.

Toronto made it 4-0 in the sixth. Grichuk chased Montgomery with a single and Guerrero singled off Adam Ottavino before rookie Alejandro Kirk hit a two-out, two-run double.

Montgomery lost for the first time in four starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Blue Jays finished 5-5 in their 10-game regular season series against the Yankees.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (elbow) was activated off the injured list and RHP Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. . RHP Jordan Romano (strained right middle finger) will throw a second bullpen session Friday.

Yankees: Judge is expected to start all three remaining regular season games, manager Aaron Boone said.

BIG HIT

New York infielder D.J. LeMaheiu went 1 for 5, dropping his MLB-best average to .355. A former NL batting champ seeing his first AL title, LeMahieu is well ahead of White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. The Chicago star went 0 for 4 in Thursday’s loss to Cleveland, dropping his average to .338.

SHARED DUTY

Boone said he expects to use both Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka at catcher in the postseason. Higashioka has hit well while working with ace Gerrit Cole, while Sanchez has struggled with both offense and his defense down the stretch.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.25) starts Friday as New York returns home to begin a three-game series against Miami. RHP Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.12) starts for the Marlins.

Blue Jays: RHP Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.86) starts Friday in the opener of a three-game series against Baltimore. The Orioles have not named a starter.