Red Sox

Beckett's blue after a rare rough outing

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Beckett's blue after a rare rough outing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE Its been a pretty mellow season for Josh Beckett.

Sure, the Red Sox offense hasnt done much to provide him with offensive support and it seems like hes been stuck on nine wins for an eternity.

But if things havent been letter-perfect for the gun-slinging righty, theyve been pretty close. He's third in the American League with a 2.40 ERA and tied for second with a 0.97 WHIP. He's allowed a miniscule 105 hits in 150 innings pitched for a .198 batting average against. He even made the All-Star team. Everything aside from the fickle win-loss total -- which is more an indication that the Red Sox haven't scored runs for him rather than any statement about his pitching -- has been among the best of his career as he's fully bounced back from last year's tumultuous 6-6, 5.78 campaign. He's been one of the biggest factors in the Red Sox' first-place standing.

Because of all that, Beckett hasnt been the four-letter-word-dropping fiend with a short fuse and colorful vocabulary that hes been during tough times in his Boston career. Hes been much more the seasoned 31-year-old veteran who's seen it all and done even more.

But Saturday nights first-inning freefall brought back the R-rated Beckett everybody knows so well.

The big righty had his worst start of the season, giving up five runs and a pair of homers before hed even recorded the first three outs of the game. He was able to lock things down after that, but the Sox couldn't make it all the way back and dropped a 5-4 decision that lowered Beckett's record to 9-5.

Beckett, who suffered his first career loss in Seattle after eight starts, hadnt allowed more than seven hits in a game this season. But the powder-puff Mariners offense pounded out nine hits against the hurlers mediocre stuff in five innings of fitful work.

The five runs allowed in Saturday nights first inning by Beckett equaled the total number of runs he'd allowed in the first inning all season. That means a couple of different things: Beckett has been consistently awesome in the first inning of his starts this season, and he was the opposite of awesome against a woefully inadequate Seattle offense.

That was a tough first inning, said Terry Francona. He didnt miss many bats.

Ichiro Suzuki rocked the first Beckett fastball of the night into the right-field stands for a solo home run, and the Sox righty continued to miss high with just about everything as the anticipated duel between himself and Seattle ace Felix Hernandez never materialized.

Beckett prides himself on being able to work deep into ballgames and saving the bullpen, but he could only fight through five innings and 99 pitches. He's finished with five innings or less only four times in 23 starts this season.

And when it was over, his reaction was vintage Beckett . . . from 2010, that is.

I left pitches up, they got it, said Beckett, who then repeated the same no-frills assessment. Left pitches up, they got hit.

Its pretty expletive simple. Its tough whenever youre facing a guy like Hernandez. That expletive game could have been over before the second inning. If you leave expletive balls right down the middle, then, expletive, I could have gone up there and hit. It was tough to make adjustments early on.

The good news: Beckett's next start will come against the Kansas City Royals, another team thats not quite ready for prime time, and he should be properly motivated to get everything down in the zone.

If not, then get ready for another episode of Beckett raw, uncut and uncensored, a show thats been happily stored on the shelf all summer.

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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