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Jayson Werth delivers walkoff homer vs. Cardinals to force a Game 5 in NLDS

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We’re going to have yet another Game 5 in this already thrilling postseason.

Jayson Werth clubbed a walkoff solo homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning this evening to power the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS. It forces a fifth and deciding game in the series tomorrow night in Washington, D.C.

The home run came on the 14th pitch of an intense duel with Lance Lynn where Werth battled back from 0-2 and fouled off a number of tough pitches. But he eventually found a pitch to his liking and put it over the left field fence and into the bullpen for the first playoff win in Washington, D.C. since 1933.

Ross Detwiler allowed an unearned run over six six innings before Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined for three innings of shutout relief. Eight of the nine outs recorded by the trio were via the strikeout, though they did get some help from a very questionable strike zone from home plate umpire Jim Joyce. Pete Kozma drew a walk with two outs in the top of the ninth and likely would have scored on a bloop into shallow left field off the bat of Matt Carpenter, but Ian Desmond was able to chase it down while making an impressive over-the-shoulder catch.

Kyle Lohse was very solid in a no-decision, allowing just one run on two hits and walk over 7 2/3 innings. His only mistake was a solo home run by Adam LaRoche in the second inning, but he simply didn’t get enough help from his offense on this day.

We’ll get a rematch from Game 1 tomorrow night, as Adam Wainwright will get the call for the Cardinals and Gio Gonzalez will pitch for the Nationals.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.