Spring training games aren’t loaded with the weight and thrill of the regular season, at least not when it comes to stacking wins and building a case for contention in the playoffs. Still, there’s nothing to say we can’t enjoy the 13-run wins, foul ball mishaps and mammoth home runs from some of baseball’s greatest players.
Take National League MVP Kris Bryant, for instance, who catapulted a grand slam off of right-hander Brock Stewart during Saturday’s 9-3 win over the Dodgers:
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The Cubs were up 3-2 in the fourth inning when Bryant struck, padding the lead behind starter Kyle Hendricks in the team’s bid for their second Cactus League win of the spring. It was his first home run of 2017, albeit not one that will count towards his total when he attempts to repeat his success as MVP and World Series champion later this year.
Bryant slashed .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs (only one of them a grand slam) and 102 RBI in 2016, leading his team — and the rest of the National League — with a career-best 8.4 fWAR. He’s 2-for-12 in Cactus League play through five games.
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.