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Red Sox advance to ALCS with 3-1 defeat of Rays

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Boston will play for the American League pennant.

Jake Peavy yielded just one run over 5 2/3 innings and the Red Sox offense managed a couple of key hits to dismiss the Rays from the 2013 postseason mix with a 3-1 defeat in Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday night at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

Peavy had a 12.10 career postseason ERA entering his Game 4 start and had the look of a man wanting redemption. He walked none, struck out three and surrendered only five hits before being lifted in the bottom of the sixth. The veteran righty was outwardly confused and frustrated by that early hook — he had thrown only 74 pitches — but lefty Craig Breslow entered the game and fanned the first four batters he faced in dominant fashion. Red Sox relievers Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara were also excellent in the eighth and ninth innings to preserve Boston’s big win.

The Red Sox drove Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson from the game in the second inning after loading the bases with no outs but came away with no runs. It wasn’t until the seventh inning — on a Joel Peralta wild pitch — that the Sox finally scored. A second run in that seventh frame on a Shane Victorino infield single pushed the American League East champions ahead of the AL Wild Card-winning Rays for good.

Dustin Pedroia added some insurance when he drove in Xander Bogaerts on a sac fly in the ninth.

The Red Sox get to play spectator for Thursday’s decisive Game 5 between the Tigers and Athletics in Oakland. The winner of that Tigers vs. A’s game will face Boston in the ALCS for a trip to the World Series.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.

Tigers to give Omar Infante some work in center field this spring

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Omar Infante #4 of the Detroit Tigers follows through on an RBI single scoring Prince Fielder #28 during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field  on September 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.

Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.

The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”