Video: Jon Lester gets a pickoff in the playoffs

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Jon Lester‘s mild case of the yips is well known. It was front and center in the playoffs last year when runners greedily took extra-long leads off first base, knowing he lacked confidence in his ability to throw over to first base. A pickoff for Lester is so notable that it earned a standalone post from us earlier this year when he did it during the regular season.

Lester entered Game 4 of the NLDS on Wednesday in the fifth inning in relief of starter Jake Arrieta. He had pitched three shutout innings when he took the hill in the eighth. The lefty walked Ryan Zimmerman with one out. Zimmerman, unsurprisingly, started taking a big lead off of first base. After falling behind 1-0 to Daniel Murphy, Lester decided to summon up his courage and throw over to first base. He spiked a one-hopper to first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Zimmerman got back to the bag. Lester decided to throw over again. It was a little off the mark, as Rizzo had to reach for it, but he swiped Zimmerman’s left foot. He was ruled safe, but Cubs skipper Joe Maddon challenged the ruling and it was overturned, giving Lester a pickoff in the playoffs.

The Cubs, though, lost Wednesday’s contest 5-0 and will have to battle the Nationals again in a pivotal Game 5 of Thursday.

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.