Quick hits: Yanks clinch AL East

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– The Yankees clinched their first American League East crown since 2006
with a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon. The Bombers
reached the 100-win mark for the first time since 2004 with the
three-game sweep of their archrivals. With Sunday’s win, the Yankees
have assured themselves of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.




– Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets front office shouldn’t take the Pollyanna approach
with promising showings by Jeff Francoeur, Luis Castillo, Angel Pagan,
Dan Murphy and Josh Thole. He argues that the Mets would be better
served to go after Rod Barajas/Bengie Molina/Miguel Olivo at catcher:
Nick Johnson/Russell Branyan/Adam LaRoche at first base: and Bobby
Abreu/Mark DeRosa/Jermaine Dye in left field. The acquisitions would
likely keep them near the estimated $15 million budget Omar Minaya will
have to work with during the offseason.




– Kevin Fagan of the San Francisco Chronicle penned a fantastic piece on Giants’ prospect Angel Villalona.
The 19-year-old first base prodigy is being held without bail in his
native Dominican Republic for the shooting death of a 25-year-old
convenience store worker. Some, including the co-owner of the disco bar
where the shooting took place, believe that Villalona is being singled
out because of his notoriety in the community. The trial, scheduled to
begin in two months, could result in a prison sentence of 20 years.




– According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, some ‘baseball people’ believe the White Sox may have interest in Carlos Zambrano,
possibly in exchange for the recently-acquired Jake Peavy. It’s a
curious suggestion, since Peavy has looked great over his first two
starts with the White Sox, allowing three runs over 12 innings. But it
might be worth it, just to see Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen in the same
locker room.




– And finally, who is that masked man? (Pssst…it’s Omir Santos)

Dusty Baker on struggling Jonathan Papelbon: “He doesn’t look very good.”

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24:  Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Washington Nationals looks on after coming out in the ninth inning during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 24, 2016 in Washington, DC.  The Padres won 10-6.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.

Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.

On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.

Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”

The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.

Blue Jays trade Drew Storen to the Mariners for Joaquin Benoit

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Drew Storen #45 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch in the eleventh inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.

Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.

Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.