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Baseball notebook

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

The Blue Jays had plenty to be happy about with their spot in the postseason secured.Nathan Denette/Associated Press

The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the 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.

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the New York 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.

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Heyward to play next season

Jason Heyward plans to play next season, even if it won’t be with the Chicago Cubs.

Heyward hasn’t been in a game since June 24 because of right knee inflammation. The 33-year-old outfielder hit .204 with one home run and 10 RBIs in 137 at-bats, and he has one season left in a $184 million, eight-year contract, a deal with a $22 million salary next season.

Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer said last month that Heyward won’t be with Chicago next year.

A two-time Gold Glove winner, Heyward has a .257 average, 159 homers and 641 RBIs in 13 seasons with Atlanta, St. Louis and Chicago. In 2016 he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. But he has hit .245 with 62 home runs in seven seasons with Chicago.

Pitch clocks trim game time

Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

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Phillies drop into tie for final NL wild card

The Philadelphia Phillies lost their fifth straight game and dropped into a tie for the National League’s final wild-card berth, falling, 2-0, to the Chicago Cubs.

Philadelphia was tied with Milwaukee at 83-72, pending the Brewers’ game against Miami.

Seeking their first playoff berth since 2011, the Phillies have lost the first three games of a season-ending 10-game trip and 10 of 13 overall since peaking at a season-best 80-62.

AL batting race tightens

After going 2 for 5 for the Twins in their 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, Luis Arraez pulled ahead of Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by two points — when rounding up — in the AL batting race. New York was off. With one week to go in the regular season, Arraez’s average is .3147, Judge is at .3134 and the Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts is third at .3088. The Yankees have seven games left, with six each for the Twins and Red Sox. September call-up Mark Payton had two hits and an RBI and scored the go-ahead run for Chicago in the eighth inning in the victory against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis that stopped an eight-game losing streak for the White Sox … Willi Castro and Javy Báez homered to lead Detroit over the Kansas City Royals, 10-3, for a three-game sweep that moved the Tigers out of last place in the AL Central.