Jon Lester struck out eight in seven innings and Koji Uehara picked up a five-out save Friday as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 6-3 on Friday and clinched the AL East title.
Lester allowed just one run in seven innings to improve to 5-1 in his last seven starts. He’s turned in nine straight quality starts, allowing one run or fewer in five of them.
After Junichi Tazawa gave up a two-run homer and a single in the eighth, Uehara was called on to get five outs and did so for his 20th save. He did give up two singles along the way; it’s the first time since July 6 that he’s given up two hits in an appearances. It was the fourth time in the last month that he’s pitched over an inning for a save. The only reliever with more than four such saves this season is the Angels’ Ernesto Frieri with seven.
For the Red Sox, the win culminates a worst-to-first season that’s seen them go from 69-93 to 94-61 and counting. It’s their first AL East title since 2007 and just their since since 1995. They currently have the best record in baseball, setting them up to have home-field advantage throughout the postseason. That’s pretty big considering that they’re 52-27 at Fenway Park this year. The Red Sox haven’t won a postseason series since 2008, when they beat the Angels in the ALDS before losing to the Rays. They were swept by the Angels in the 2009 ALDS and they missed the postseason the following three seasons.
Ben Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculated on Sunday that there might be a connection between the Giants and veteran free agent right-hander John Lackey, and now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that San Francisco is indeed in pursuit.
Rosenthal says the Giants, “like most clubs seeking pitching, [are] examining [a] wide range of options” in this starter-heavy free agent market. Lackey would make a ton of sense for any contender on something like a two-year deal. His free agency is tied to draft pick compensation, but that shouldn’t be much of a deterrent.
The 37-year-old right-hander registered a career-best 2.77 ERA across 218 innings (33 starts) this past season for the National League Central-champion Cardinals and he was St. Louis’ most reliable starter during the playoffs.
It’s well known that he wants to remain in the National League.
As first reported by beat writer Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels have signed free agent catcher Geovany Soto to a one-year major league contract. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez says the deal is worth $2.8 million guaranteed.
Soto will offer some veteran presence at catcher for the Halos alongside 25-year-old Carlos Perez, who hit .250/.299/.346 as a rookie in 2015.
Soto slashed .219/.301/.406 with nine homers in 78 games this summer for the White Sox.
The 32-year-old backstop is a .246/.331/.434 career hitter at the major league level.
According to the official Twitter account of the Chicago White Sox, the club acquired right-hander Tommy Kahnle from the Rockies on Tuesday evening in exchange for minor league pitcher Yency Almonte.
Kahnle was designated for assignment by the Rockies last week in a flurry of moves made in preparation of next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The 26-year-old former fifth-round pick posted an ugly 4.86 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, and 39/28 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings this past season for Colorado and he wasn’t much better at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Almonte, 21, had a 3.41 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 110/38 K/BB ratio in 137 1/3 innings this past season between Low-A Kannapolis and High-A Winston-Salem.
It’s a straight one-for-one deal of two non-prospects, and the timing of it — in the evening, with Thanksgiving approaching — has our Craig Calcaterra wondering whether an executive was just trying to get out of some family responsibilities …
The other day Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres were in discussions with former Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire about their bench coach job. Today Jon Heyman reports that the deal is done and will soon be announced.
McGwire has been the hitting coach for Los Angeles for the past three seasons. When his contract was not renewed following the end of 2015 he was rumored to be up for the Diamondbacks’ hitting coach job. He likely view staying in Southern California to be a plus, as he makes his home in Irvine, which is around 90 miles from Petco Park. That’s a long commute, but Mac can afford the gas, I guess.