Red Sox beat Blue Jays to clinch AL East

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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.

Happy one-year anniversary of the Bryce Harper signing

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Last night Bill talked about how different this past offseason was than the one before as far as free agents go. This year all the big guys signed well before spring training and, Yasiel Puig aside, there aren’t many significant players left out on the market. It’s sort of how the hot stove season is supposed to go.

Last year, of course, was crazy. The two biggest free agents — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — didn’t sign until February. In fact, Harper didn’t officially sign with Philly until March 2. One year ago today, however — February 28, 2019 — was the day the news of the impeding signing broke.

Over at NBC Sports Philly, they put together a video talking to Harper, Scott Boras, Matt Klentak and others who put the massive deal together. It gives you a sense of how the moving parts move in the runup to the biggest contract in baseball history.

It also gives you a sense of how much trouble Harper might’ve had had he gone with the other team who was in the bidding for him at the last minute: the Giants. Specifically, he keeps calling them “San Fran,” and if you know anyone from the Bay Area, you know just how much they hate it when people say “San Fran.” Don’t do that, folks.

Anyway here — apart from the tendering of a $330 million contract — is how Bryce Harper became a Phillie: