Albert Pujols would be fine if the Cardinals gave his number away

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No matter the way the relationship ended, Albert Pujols’ No. 5 seems destined to be retired by the Cardinals someday after his career is over. Pujols, though, told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale he wouldn’t mind if they choose to give it away.

“It’s just a number, so if someone else wants to wear it, that won’t hurt my feelings,” Pujols says. “Would I be shocked if St. Louis gave that number to somebody? No. They can do whatever they want. I don’t play there anymore. I’m being honest; that won’t bother me at all.”

Pujols ranks second in Cardinals franchise history in homers (445), doubles (455) and RBI (1,329), trailing only Stan Musial in each category. He also played a big role in two World Series victories. Given that the franchise hasn’t been especially shy about retiring numbers (Bruce Sutter and Ken Boyer are among their retirees), it would be pretty shocking if anyone ever again wears No. 5, unless maybe Pujols goes back and does it himself at the very end of his career.

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.