Red Sox

Beckett helps Red Sox edge Indians, 4-2

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Beckett helps Red Sox edge Indians, 4-2

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND As well as Josh Beckett pitched in Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS (eight innings of nasty, one run, 11 strikeouts, five hits in a 7-1 win), its hard to believe he entered Tuesdays game looking for his first career regular season win in Cleveland.

But thats what he got as the Red Sox beat the Indians, 4-2, for the first time this season. Beckett went 6 23 innings, allowing one run on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Beckett is now 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Through six innings Beckett and Indians starter Fausto Carmona nearly matched each other. But, leading, 2-1, going into the seventh, Sox batters were able to open a lead on Carmona, who had limited them to two runs on just two hits before the frame.

David Ortiz lead off the seventh with a double to center, scoring on Jason Varitek's one-out home run to right. It was Variteks first home run since May 30, 2010.

The Sox took advantage of two free passes by Carmona in the third. Carl Crawford led off the inning, getting hit by a Carmona 92-mph sinker. He stole second, his seventh steal of the season, and went to third on Drew Suttons groundout to Orlando Cabrera at second. After a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowries sacrifice fly scored Crawford for the Sox first run. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Ellsbury stole second, his 16th stolen base of the season. Gonzalezs double to right scored Ellsbury, extending Gonzalez league lead in RBI to 42.

The Indians lone run off Beckett came in the second inning. Travis Buck led off with an infield single and went to second when Beckett hit Orlando Cabrera with a curveball. After striking out Matt LaPorta (looking) and Jack Hannahan (swinging), Beckett allowed a single to center by Ezequiel Carrera, scoring Buck. It was just the second run he had allowed in his last five starts.

The Indians added a run in the ninth, on Travis Bucks one-out solo home run. It was the first home run Jonathan Papelbon has allowed this season. But Papelbon got Orlando Cabrera to foul out to J.D. Drew and Matt LaPorta on a long fly out to Crawford in left. Papelbon earned his ninth save.

It was Becketts second win in his last seven starts, going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in that stretch.

Carmona took the loss, going eight innings, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk, matching a season high with seven strikeouts. He falls to 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Josh Beckett
Beckett continues to string together impressive outings, improving to 4-1 with a league-leading 1.69 ERA in 10 starts. His ERA trails only Floridas Josh Johnson, at 1.64. Beckett has not lost since his first outing of the season April 5 in Cleveland. Since then he is 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts. The Sox are 7-2 in those games. In his last five starts he is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA.

He earned his first career regular season win in Cleveland, improving to 4-5 against them overall.

Beckett has seven quality starts in his 10 outings this season.

"Honestly, it starts with the quality start, said catcher Jason Varitek. We had a different mix of of pitches -- more changeups and cutters -- he didn't have a feel for his curveball. He had a couple of different times (when it was working), but it wasn't as good as he's had it. Lost a little feel for it.

It still comes down to lead with his fastball, his location. He threw quality locations -- set up the slider, cutter and sinker. Those things are huge when you do that and change speeds. He's had to do it different ways. He had to battle his neck the last time leaving after six innings with a stiff neck. Today was more of a finesse day rather than a power day. It should make him feel good because he can pitch in different ways.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jason Varitek
Varitek went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. His home run, to right field, scored David Ortiz and was the difference in the Sox 4-2 win. It was his first homer since May 30, 2010, against Kansas City, a span of 117 at-bats.

Varitek has a five-game hit streak, batting .353 (6-for-17). It is his longest streak since hitting safely in the same number from Aug. 16 22, 2008.

Varitek, though, is satisfied that hes been having quality at-bats.

"I dont know how long its been since last hitting a home run, Varitek said. It was nice...the timing of it. I've had good quality at-bats; whether I hit a home run or not I don't know. I've been having some good at-bats. I couldn't have started any worse. I was 1-for-40 and after that I started having competitive at-bats and not necessarily the results.

He also threw out two would-be base stealers. In the third inning he cut down Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal second, to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Varitek caught Travis Buck attempting to steal second. It was the first time Varitek has thrown out two attempted base stealers in a game since catching Seattles Chone Figgins twice on Sept. 14, 2010.

His two RBI gives him 728 for his career, moving him past Mike Greenwell for sole possession of 13th on the Sox all-time list.

Varitek contributes by making Beckett feel comfortable as well. Beckett has not lost a start when Varitek has been behind the plate for him this season.
THE GOAT: Fausto Carmona
Awfully tough call on this one for a pitcher who performed so well through six innings two runs on two hits. But his seventh inning cost him the game, giving up two runs on two hits.

THE TURNING POINT
With the Sox holding a slim one-run lead in the seventh inning, David Ortiz led off with a double to center field. After J.D. Drew grounded out, moving Ortiz to third. Varitek hit Carmonas first pitch, a 92-mph sinker, into the right field bleachers, his first home run of the season, putting the Sox ahead 4-1. The extra runs would prove valuable when Jonathan Papelbon gave up a one-out ninth-inning homer to Travis Buck.
STAT OF THE DAY: .667
The Sox are 15-7, a .682 winning percentage in May, best in the American League, and 26-22 overall. After starting the season 2-10, they are 24-12 since, a .667 winning percentage. If they were to maintain that pace for the rest of the season -- no, not easy -- they would go 76-38 the rest of the way, finishing the season at 102-60.
QUOTE OF NOTE
I think I won here in the playoffs, pretty big game. October wins are bigger anyway.

--Josh Beckett on his first career regular season win in Cleveland, improving to 1-3, 5.02 ERA in four starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

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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