Red Sox

Ciricaco (4-for-4) solidifies reputation as Yankee-killer

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Ciricaco (4-for-4) solidifies reputation as Yankee-killer

NEW YORK -- No one can explain it, so the Red Sox are simply content to enjoy it.

Pedro Ciriaco is murdering Yankees' pitching this season.

He had a four-hit game Saturday in the team's 4-1 win over New York -- singles in the second and fifth, a bunt single in the seventh innings, before adding a double in the eighth.

He also scored a run and stole a base.

For Ciriaco, it was his second four-hit game of the year and both have come against the Yankees. In fact, Ciriaco has had six games this year with at least three hits and four of those have come against the Yankees.

He's batting .517 (15-for-29) against the Yanks, with nine runs scored and seven RBI in seven games.

"We're in the same division,'' shrugged Ciriaco of playing this well against his team's rivals. "I just try to play my best. I've been really happy to be doing what I've been doing. I'm not trying to do too much -- just trying to get a good pitch to hit and take advantage.''

Ciriaco said the setting isn't a factor in his success.

"I'm excited every time I get to the plate,'' he said.

A career journeyman, Ciriaco takes pride in the fact that, both at Triple-A Pawtucket and in his various stints with the Red Sox, he's "been more consistent this year.''

Joked Bobby Valentine: "You think they the Yankees are going to try to trade for him? He's played well against the Yankees.''

Lefty reliever Craig Breslow and catcher Ryan Lavarnway made history Saturday, but of more consequence to the Red Sox was that they got the biggest two outs of the game.

Both Lavarnway and Breslow are graduates of Yale and Saturday is believed to have represented the first time in modern baseball history that a game has featured an all-Yale battery.

Still, it wasn't just the historic first. It was what they did on the only pitch in which they were in the game together.

Breslow came in with Nick Swisher on first and one out in the eighth. Lavarnway called for a curve, which Robinson Cano hit for the start of a inning-ending double play, 3-6-3.

"He threw a really good curveball and got on top of it,'' said Valentine of Breslow.

Lavarnway said he heard from his former college coach, ex-major league pitcher John Stuper -- via text -- after the game.

When it was noted of his Ivy League battery that Breslow has a degree in biomolecular engineering, Valentine joked: "I don't talk to those guys."

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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