Schwarber joins Red Sox lineup 2 weeks after trade

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BOSTON – Kyle Schwarber joined the Red Sox lineup for the first time Friday night, two weeks after Boston acquired the slugger from the Washington Nationals.

Schwarber has been recovering from a right hamstring strain. He was batting sixth Friday as Boston’s designated hitter to open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Schwarber was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Thursday night, but the game was rained out. The Red Sox activated him anyway for Friday, hoping his bat could help lift the club out of a recent slide that knocked Boston five games behind Tampa Bay in the AL East.

Manager Alex Cora said he’s confident Schwarber is healthy enough to hit and could start playing first base as soon as next weekend against Texas.

“We trust his judgement. We’ve seen him taking batting practice. We’ve done a lot of stuff behind closed doors to get him up to speed with the game,” Cora said. “This guy, he controls the strike zone. It’s not like he’s a wild swinger.”

Schwarber hasn’t played since July 2. He was batting .253 with 25 home runs for the Nationals.

The Red Sox were also set to get left-handed starter Chris Sale back Saturday for his first start in more than two years. Sale, who had Tommy John surgery in March 2020, allowed three runs over 20 innings during rehab assignments in the minors.

“We’ve been talking about this for a while and now he’s right here, right in front of us. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. We have to perform,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of guys in that clubhouse who have struggled the last few weeks. Either offensively or defensively, pitching-wise. For us to be a good team, we have to play clean baseball. We have to be better.”

To make room for Schwarber, Boston designated IF/OF Marwin Gonzalez for assignment. Center fielder Alex Verdugo also returned to the Red Sox from paternity leave.

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.