Red Sox

Control still an issue for Miller

191542.jpg

Control still an issue for Miller

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When the Red Sox promoted Andrew Miller from Pawtucket last month, they knew there would be nights like Friday night.

Nights when Miller can't command the strike zone as well as he'd like. Nights when Miller not only walks too many (five), but consistently falls behind and has to pitch in hitter's counts.

In his first four starts, Miller displayed improving control, walking 11 in his first 22 23 innings, but only once more than three in any one start.

There were signs, however, that Friday wasn't going to be his night. He walked two of the first three hitters in the first inning, and one scored.

And in the second, he walked another to help load the bases, setting the stage for a grand slam by Ben Zobrist, leading to a 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"The walks really hurt,'' acknowledged Terry Francona." The strike-to-walk ratio (85 pitches, 51 strikes) wasn't horrible, but all of the balls (he threw) were bunched together. That's a tough way to pitch.''

Indeed, Miller was gone after just 2 23 innings, forcing the Sox to use four relievers to cover the final 5 13 innings.

"I pitched around the plate,'' said Miller, "but I got behind in counts, threw pitches up in the zone and you can't be successful that way.''

Miller maintained that the off-night wasn't the result of any sort of mechanical flaw.

"To be honest with you, I actually felt pretty good about where the ball was going,'' Miller said. "I just think I found myself in counts, in a lot of deep counts. I've got to do a better job attacking the zone insteading of trying to hit the corners.''

A more aggressive approach, in other words, may have cut down on walks and changed the outcome.

In needing 85 pitches to get just eight outs, Miller put himself in a tough position, with his pitch count climbing early.

"I'm not doing it on purpose,'' he said, "but it seemed like I'm just missing off the plate or hitting the corner. What got me back here (to the big leagues) is being aggressive in the strike zone and I'm not doing that right now. I've got to do a better job (with that).

"To me, it seems like I'm kind of nibbling and finding myself in counts. These guys are good enough that when they're ahead in the count, they're going to tattoo the ball pretty good.''

Pitching coach Curt Young echoed the same sentiment and said pitching consistently from behind was what doomed Miller.

"He's been throwing the ball good...he's been solid,'' Young said. "Tonight was (about) not being ahead and not a lot of early outs.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

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

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE