Tony La Russa staying with Ryan Franklin as Cardinals’ closer despite three blown saves

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Ryan Franklin has blown three saves in four chances this season, allowing a total of four runs in 3.2 innings, but yesterday manager Tony La Russa made it clear that he’s sticking with the 38-year-old right-hander as the Cardinals’ closer:

I don’t see anything that’s changed between anybody that’s his competition. … Somebody’s got to come up with somebody that’s better on our club right now. The fact is that right now those young guys aren’t better.

Matthew Leach of MLB.com notes that two of the blown saves came in part because the defense didn’t make plays behind Franklin, but he’s allowed opponents to hit .353 with a .588 slugging percentage while already coughing up more leads than he did in all of 2010.

With that said, making sweeping changes based on what essentially boils down to 20 bad plate appearances rarely makes sense and Franklin had been an excellent reliever for St. Louis in each of the past four seasons. He deserves a chance to turn things around, but if not La Russa indirectly mentioned Miguel Batista, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte as potential alternatives. For the sake of Cardinals fans, let’s hope he wouldn’t actually hand ninth-inning duties to Batista.

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.