Albert Pujols on Tony La Russa: “He’s like a father to me”

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Albert Pujols released a statement addressing Tony La Russa’s retirement:

I’d like to congratulate Tony on his amazing Hall of Fame career. He’s been like a father to me and in my opinion, is one of the greatest managers in the history of the game. I’ve been blessed to be able to learn from Tony for the past 11 years and I wish him well on his retirement.

La Russa is the only manager Pujols has played for as a major leaguer and earlier this week David Eckstein opined that Pujols would re-sign with the Cardinals if they promote third base coach Jose Oquendo to replace him. Ultimately the dollars and years will probably determine if Pujols stays in St. Louis, but it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals not taking his preferences seriously when choosing La Russa’s successor.

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.