Red Sox

Beckett finally gets support, 3-1

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Beckett finally gets support, 3-1

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Theres a reason Josh Beckett has only nine wins to show for his All-Star season despite an ERA hovering around 2.00.

Becketts ugly little reason struck again on Saturday at Fenway Park in the first six innings, but it wasnt fatal this time around.

The Red Sox entered the game supplying Beckett with a team-worst 3.71 average run support for each of his 19 starts this year, but they finally arrived via some timely hitting from Jacoby Ellsbury.

Varitek singled with two outs, and Marco Scutaro followed with a ground rule double down the right field line that was stopped from being more by a wrong-headed fan that reached out to snare the ball. The fan misplay was rendered moot by a two-strike, two-out Ellsbury single up the middle that plated both Varitek and Scutaro to give the streaking Sox all they would need in a 3-1 victory at Fenway.

Beckett was brilliant while cruising through seven innings with no cushion at all to work with. The power righty only faltered in the final frame with a single run blemish while scattering seven hits and fanning seven Seattle hitters as his record improved to 9-3 on the season.

The only Seattle run in the game arrived courtesy of the immortal Mike Carp, who has bashed a home run in each of the last two games against the Sox for his only two big league round-trippers on the season. Lanky Seattle right-hander Blake Beavan matched Beckett inning for inning, and took advantage of several Boston base-running misadventures before their seventh inning rally.

The Sox set the tone in the first couple of innings when a one-out Dustin Pedroia double was wasted in the first frame, and David Ortiz was gunned down at home plate for the third out on a potential sacrifice fly in the second inning. There were clearly a few instances of the Sox shooting themselves in the foot with mental errors and miscalculations in judgment.

Adrian Gonzalez topped it off in the sixth with a rare gaffe on the basepaths while running into an out at third base after lacing a ground rule double down the right field line. All of the mistakes were forgotten, however, when the Sox once again won another game with a dominant seventh inning. Daniel Bard escaped a no-out bases-loaded jam in the eighth frame and Jonathan Papelbon wrapped things up for his 23rd save of the season.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

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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