Red Sox

Bullpen not good enough against Orioles

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Bullpen not good enough against Orioles

BOSTON -- It wasn't a terrible appearance for the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night at Fenway Park. But it wasn't good enough.

But if you're going to point a finger following Boston's 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in 13 innings, then that finger would ultimately be pointed at left-hander Franklin Morales, who picked up his first loss of the season after allowing two runs in the top of the 13th that gave Baltimore its first lead of the game.

Morales entered the game in the top of the 12th, and relieved Alfredo Aceves with a runner on second and two outs. He was able to get out of the jam and got Nick Markakis to fly out to left field, ending the inning with the game still tied at 4-4.

But the 13th inning was a different story, as Morales let up a Matt Wieters single and then walked Wilson Betemit, all with one out.

With runners on first and second, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis singled to right field, scoring Wieters from second and advancing Betemit to third.

Scott Atchison then came in to relieve Morales, but the first batter he faced -- Mark Reynolds -- drove in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 6-4.

"Morales got the big out in the 12th inning, then came in again," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "Then he gave up a changeup base-hit, a 3-2 walk, and a ground ball through the infield.

"It wasn't a terrible appearance, that's for sure. But he gave up two runs."

Those two runs cost the Red Sox their third-straight game. That, combined with the fact that it truly wasn't a terrible performance by his bullpen, was all the more frustrating.

That frustration was evident following the game, as Valentine sat in his office chair, lid off, head back, and his eyes closed.

Had Morales got out of the 13th inning, he had Atchison ready to go three innings. And prior to that, he can't say he made the wrong decisions, given the bullpen arms he's dealing with.

Vicente Padilla and Rich Hill were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs -- that Padilla put them in -- by only allowing one run in the seventh. It tied the game at 4-4, but still, it didn't end the game.

Then, Matt Albers and Aceves combined for 4.2 scoreless innings of work, while allowing only two hits and one walk, while striking out six.

Albers had the walk, but stormed through the eighth and ninth innings.

Aceves allowed the two hits, but was one out away from going three full innings, and struck out six batters, including the first five hitters he faced.

"Aceves came in with a lot of rest, and was a man on a mission," said Valentine. "He and Matt Albers were lights out. They were terrific. They did everything that they could possibly do."

What they couldn't do was drive in runs for Boston's offense. And while it wasn't a terrible night for the Red Sox bullpen, they were the ones to crack first.

And that's all that matters.

"It doesn't count for nothing, man," said Aceves on his dominant night out of the bullpen. "We lost. We need to win. They're in second place, and we couldn't hold the lead. We just have to forget about this game, and come back Saturday with the same approach, work hard, and hopefully we're going to get the result that we want."

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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