Josh Willingham is retiring

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Josh Willingham officially announced his retirement at age 35, following 11 seasons in the majors for the Marlins, Twins, Nationals, A’s, and Royals.

Willingham signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Twins in 2012 and had a career-year that season, hitting .260 with 35 homers and an .890 OPS in 145 games.

He struggled to stay healthy in the final two seasons of the contract, playing a total of just 203 games in 2013/2014 while hitting .211 with a .724 OPS.

Willingham perhaps could have struck around for another season as a bench bat or platoon designated hitter versus left-handers, but he ceased being a serviceable defensive left fielder.

He finishes with 195 career homers and an .823 OPS in 1,147 games–including an OPS above .800 every season from 2006-2012–which is fantastic production considering Willingham didn’t get his first extended action in the majors until age 27 despite topping a .900 OPS at Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

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.