BOSTON Although he gave a up a first-inning run, continuing a disconcerting trend by Red Sox pitchers, Felix Doubront held the White Sox scoreless over the rest of six-inning outing Wednesday night, as the Red Sox beat Chicago, 10-1 at Fenway Park. Doubront improves his record to 10-4 with a 4.24 ERA.Doubront, who spent spring training vying for both a roster spot and spot in the rotation, is the first Sox pitcher to reach the 10-win plateau this season. On a staff that included presumptive elite pitchers, that fact does not go unnoticed. It has surprised even Doubront.A lot, he said. But since I came to spring training I was working so hard to be here and to be in this spot. Just working to get more wins and whatever happens Im going to keep fighting to get more wins.Felix Doubronts been our most consistent pitcher all year. Obviously he has 10 wins, manager Bobby Valentine said. I guess coming out of spring training, Vegas would have given you pretty good odds that he would not have been the first one on our staff with 10 wins. But hes been consistent.Doubront opened the game with consecutive singles to Alejandro De Aza and Kevin Youkilis before getting Adam Dunn to ground into a double play. But Paul Konerko, playing in his 2,000th career game with the White Sox, singled to drive in De Aza.Doubront held the White Sox at bay the rest of the way. In six innings, he gave up just one run on four hits and a walk with two strikeouts.He got the double play ball in the first inning and got upset that he let the two-out hit fall in there and then he shut the door, Valentine said. His changeup was really good. He wasnt afraid to throw inside when he had to. Had his two-seamer working. Hes a good pitcher.In a season when those presumptive elite pitchers have been inconsistent, Doubront has provided a measure of consistency. In 18 outings he posted his 10th quality start of the season, tied for most on the staff, while becoming the staff stopper. In eight starts following a Sox loss, including Wednesday, he has posted a record of 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA. The Sox are 7-1 in those games.He caught my eye in his first bullpen that I ever saw because he was kind of off the radar, Valentine said. He had pitched some winter ball so he was a little ahead of the other guys. So it was easy for him to stand out. But he maintained really good bullpens, as I remember, really good outings. His two-inning outings, his four-inning outings. He was a slam dunk to make the team as far as I was concerned.Doubront has been the beneficiary of tremendous run support. He leads all major league qualifiers with an average of 8.38 runs of support per start. Knowing he is likely to get that kind of support can only help his approach on the mound, even when working with a quick deficit.Sox pitchers have given up a total of 76 first-inning runs this season, their highest total of any inning. They have allowed at least one run in the first inning in 15 of the last 17 games at Fenway, including the last 10 in a row.I know the team is going to score runs, Doubront said. We got a good team, great hitters. I wasnt worried about that. Just good pitching. I figured out a couple things. In the first inning I was a little bit off.Its amazing... to see a lot of scoring, that helped me to keep throwing the ball and get confidence to stay for six or seven inningsIn trouncing the White Sox, Doubront was backed by Cody Ross two three-run home runs, and four RBI from Adrian Gonzalez.Felix was outstanding tonight, said Ross. He got himself in a little trouble, in a bind early in that first inning and managed to get out of it and then was just dominant after that. Flipping his curve ball over, getting some swing and misses on that and getting a lot of ground ball outs. He pitched outstanding and the bullpen came in and did an outstanding job.Doubront is now 5-0 with a 2.97 ERA against American League Central teams this season.When a team gets a lead like that, and a pitcher gets a lead like that, hes taught to go out there and really pound the strike zone, said Konerko. He got better after he got that big lead and thats what youre supposed to do.
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.
“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
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.