Red Sox' Bogaerts singles in the seventh inning of their American League MLB baseball game against the Yankees at Fenway Park in Boston

Red Sox sweep away Yankees to continue incredible run

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Mariano Rivera was honored Sunday prior to his last ever regular-season appearance at Fenway Park. The Red Sox made sure that was the only time he’d see the mound all weekend.

The Red Sox shook off a first-inning Yankees run with three of their own and routed the Bombers 9-2 for a three-game sweep in Boston. They claimed six out of seven games over the last week and a half to finish the season 13-6 against the Yankees. As the Providence Journal’s Alex Speier pointed out, the Red Sox are the first team to beat the Yankees 13 times in a season since the Orioles went 13-5 against them way back in 1976.

Tonight’s star was Daniel Nava, who went 4-for-5 with a couple of doubles. Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer off Ivan Nova in the first. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was credited with a steal of home in the fourth after Xander Bogaerts took off for second and Brendan Ryan failed to handle the throw from Chris Stewart.

Clay Buchholz, making his second start since coming off the DL, allowed just an unearned run over six innings, even though he wasn’t particularly sharp. He walked four and his fastball looked pretty hittable, but the Yankees couldn’t cash in. Their only run came after Curtis Granderson walked to start the first, reached third on an errant pickoff throw and came home on an Alex Rodriguez groundout.

Rodriguez later exited with right calf tightness.

The Red Sox are 11-3 in September and have 17 wins in their last 21 games. They own baseball’s best record at 92-59 and best run differential at +183 despite playing in the league’s toughest division. If they win five of their last 11 games, they’ll finish with 97 wins for the first time since 2004 and second time since 1978. If they go 8-3, they’ll reach 100 for the first time since 1946.

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.