Red Sox

Chris Sale blanks Angels for 6 innings in Red Sox 6-2 win

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Chris Sale blanks Angels for 6 innings in Red Sox 6-2 win

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A pitcher dreams of starts like this, his team giving him a big early lead before he even throws a pitch. Of course, teams dream of having a starting pitcher like Chris Sale.

The two came together in brilliant fashion on a warm Friday night, with the Boston Red Sox scoring five times in the top of the first and Sale throwing six scoreless innings in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

"We spotted him five runs in the first inning," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I thought we did an outstanding job of stringing hits together, hitting pitches where they were located and using the whole field."

And then turning it over to Sale, who continued his dominating season.

Sale (12-4) allowed four hits and struck out nine to push his major league-leading total to 200. He walked one and lowered his American League-best ERA to 2.48.

"I've not been around a pitcher who's had that kind of focus," Farrell said. "His strikeout capability is certainly unique. He's an elite pitcher. And it's not just with one pitch. It's three different ones he can get strikeouts with."

He became just the fourth pitcher to reach the 200-strikeout mark in 20 or fewer starts, joining Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson (three times) and Pedro Martinez.

"It's cool," Sale said. "I appreciate it. I'm not the biggest fan of looking at stuff like that. Those are things for the offseason or to tell my grandkids."

Sale has won 11 of his last 13 decisions. He improved to 6-0 against the Angels with a 1.23 ERA in seven starts (nine games).

"He's really deceptive, uses both sides of the plate and has really good secondary stuff," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Boston jumped on erratic Angels starter Ricky Nolasco (4-11) in the first, with six of its first seven batters collecting a hit. Nolasco went four innings and allowed all six runs on nine hits and a walk.

The Angels avoided a shutout when Martin Maldonado hit a solo home run off reliever Kyle Martin in the seventh. It was his 11th homer of the season.

SAVING CATCH

Jackie Bradley Jr. made a tremendous, leaping catch as he flew into the center-field wall on a drive by Yunel Escobar to lead off the bottom of the first inning.

"Jackie made a spectacular catch going up against the wall, as he's done so many times," Farrell said. "That was a play he was all out, right to the point of impact. Thankfully there's padding there."

All Sale could do was be appreciative.

"It seems like once he makes a great catch, it's like, OK, that's the best catch," he said. "Then he makes another and then that's the best one. It just seems like he's always raising the bar. It's fun to watch."

NOLASCO STRUGGLES

The Angels are 5-15 in games Nolasco has started this season, and 42-36 all the others.

"All you can do is wear it," Nolasco said.

DEFENSE TOO

The Red Sox are not the only team getting some strong defensive play.

The Angels have now gone 14 consecutive games without committing an error, matching the franchise record.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Right-hander Joe Kelly (strained left hamstring) remained in Boston and threw long-toss. ... With Eduardo Rodriguez (partial shoulder dislocation) back, right-hander Doug Fister is moving to the bullpen. In five games (four starts), Fister is 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA.

Angels: Right-hander Matt Shoemaker (forearm strain) threw lightly for the first time in two weeks. "He's taking baby steps right now," Scioscia said. "We won't have a read on him for another seven to 10 days." ... Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (right oblique strain) is scheduled to throw four innings Saturday for Triple-A Salt Lake. ... Outfielder Shane Robinson left the game after four innings with upper back spasms.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Left-hander David Price (5-2, 3.39 ERA) looks to keep his strong recent stretch going Saturday against the Angels. In his last three starts, he has allowed just two earned runs (20 innings).

Angels: Right-hander JC Ramirez (8-8, 4.54) is scheduled to make his 19th start of the season. In five career games against the Red Sox (one start) he is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA. He last started a game on June 14.

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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