Matt Stairs named new Padres hitting coach

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It was just a year ago that Matt Stairs moved down from the broadcast booth to the dugout to become the Phillies hitting coach. With former boss Pete Mackanin fired, however, Stairs was a man without a country, but now he’s moved on: the San Diego Padres just hired him as their hitting coach.

The Phillies experienced a nice offensive uptick in the one year Stairs served as hitting coach, with increases in run scoring and on-base percentage. It’s possible the new Phillies manager, whoever he may be, would’ve kept him on both because of that and because he has developed a decent rapport with the young Phillies hitters. A bird in the hand beats two in the bush, of course, so it makes sense that he’s choosing move on.

He’ll have his work cut out for him in San Diego. The Padres were dead last in the majors in runs scored and on-base percentage and were 28th in slugging.

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.