Red Sox

Buchholz takes big step forward

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Buchholz takes big step forward

BOSTON -- It wasn't Clay Buchholz' longest outing of the season, but it was his best.

The righty picked up his team-leading fourth win of the season while allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks in 6.1 innings on Friday night to lead the Red Sox to a 7-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night at Fenway Park.

The win snapped a three-game losing skid for Boston, while Buchholz snapped a skid of six-consecutive starts in which he allowed five or more earned runs.

"In my humble opinion, he had better movement tonight, than I've seen him with," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win.

After getting out of a first-inning jam, Buchholz cruised through to the seventh inning. Entering that seventh inning, Buchholz allowed just one run on six hits and a pair of walks.

That one run gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and for a moment, it looked as if Buchholz was going to continue that streak of allowing at least five runs a game.

After recording the first two outs in the top of the first, Buchholz walked Asdrubal Cabrera and then let up a two-out single to Travis Hafner. Cabrera then scored on Carlos Santana's single down the right-field line.

Buchholz then hit Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch to load the bases. The sudden turn of events forced Valentine to make a mound visit of his own.

"I didn't want him to let that game get away from him because of anything other than him being as good as he can possibly be," said Valentine when asked what he said to Buchholz in that mound visit.

"I just wanted Clay to understand that I believed in him, and everybody behind him thought he was a good pitcher. Prove it to the guys in front of him."

"It was good," said Buchholz. "He basically just came out there and said, 'You know what, you need to get your stuff right and go after these guys and get these guys out so that we can get into the dugout and win a ballgame.'"

Buchholz got the next batter -- Michael Brantley -- to ground out to end the inning, and it was an out that he said gave him a big-time confidence booster, which led to only four Indians hits and no runs in the next five innings.

"He was breaking left-handers' bats. We haven't seen that," said Valentine. "They were hitting it off the end. He was getting in on them, snapping them in half. It indicates to me that his ball had that action that we needed to have for him to be successful."

Buchholz said that he had never pitched to a lineup that featured all lefties, and because of that, he called the experience "mentally draining," and the hard-hitting lineup forced him to have just his second-career game with no strikeouts.

But Buchholz was able to get through to the seventh inning, where he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Rich Hill came in to relieve Buchholz after throwing 111 pitches. He and Andrew Miller were on the mound to allow the next three runs that were all added to Buchholz' stat line.

"Now he can look at his record of four wins, and say that he's really building on something," said Valentine. "He's coming off a good outing, next time he walks out there."

Not just good, his best of 2012.

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

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.