Red Sox

Aceves on blown save: It was the team's loss

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Aceves on blown save: It was the team's loss

BOSTON -- Perhaps it should have never come down to this.
But even after taking a 6-0 lead through the first two innings on Thursday night at Fenway Park, it came down to Alfredo Aceves trying to hold onto an 11-9 Red Sox lead over the Los Angeles Angels.
And he just couldn't do it.
The Red Sox broke a 9-9 tie in the bottom of the eighth, and after recording the first out in the top of the ninth, Aceves allowed a solo home run to Vernon Wells. The replays showed that it should have never been a home run, as it hit the top of the red line and bounced back onto the field.
Everybody on the Red Sox thought it was a home run, until the media told them otherwise after the game.
But it wouldn't have mattered, as two batters later, Mike Trout's two-out bloop single into right field was badly misplayed by Cody Ross, advancing Trout to second on what should have been nothing more than a single.
Even if Wells' home run was reviewed and then overturned, he would have scored on Trout's hit. And even after Trout's hit, Aceves still had a chance -- with two outs and an 11-10 lead -- to end the game.
But Torii Hunter made the Red Sox pay for Ross' miscue in right field, and ripped a liner to left field, which scored the tying run in Trout, on a close play at the plate.
And it wasn't over.
Aceves then walked Howard Kendrick, and then allowed a Mark Trumbo RBI single up the middle that scored Hunter to give the Angels a 12-11 lead.
Ross tied the game with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and yet, there was Aceves, coming back out to pitch the top of the 10th in a 12-12 ball game, after giving up three runs in the top of the ninth and blowing his seventh save of the season.
"He's our closer," said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "You've got to stay strong with him. We battled back and came back and scored some runs. So, you know, you've got to have confidence in your closer."
"Well it was basically the same as Angels manager Mike Scioscia did, you know, he's our closer and he gives up a lead," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "I had two left-handers in the bullpen, and they had a right-handed lineup. I had three innings left, and I wanted to squeeze another inning out of him. It obviously was the wrong decision."
Kendrys Morales led off the inning by putting an Aceves fastball in the right-field seats, giving the Angels a 13-12 lead. And in the next at-bat, Erick Aybar singled to right field, ending Aceves' night.
Craig Breslow came in to relieve him, but Wells welcomed him into the game by driving a double down the left-field line that scored Aybar from first to put the Angels up 14-12.
The Red Sox would score one in the bottom of there 10th, but it ended up being too much to overcome, and Aceves picked up his eighth loss of the season.
Still, after the game, Aceves wasn't going to blame it all on himself.
"I missed a couple of pitches, ya, obvious," said Aceves. "It's not about that. We lost the game. There were like 25 runs. So it's not that I pitched one pitch, and that we would lose because of that, no. It was the entire game, the entire game.
"It's not about me me, it's not about me," he later added when asked how he would bounce back from this. "I mean, we've been playing expletive, expletive baseball."
He's right about that. And perhaps he's also right about the entire game not being his fault. Because it probably should have never come down to him.

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

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MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

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Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per baseball-reference.com.

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.

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