Red Sox

Doubront remains most reliable starter

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Doubront remains most reliable starter

TORONTO For Felix Doubront, it was pretty simple. Just throw the ball.

Doubront started out with 3-0 counts to the first two Blue Jays hitters he faced Saturday afternoon. Not a situation any pitcher ever wants. But, he eventually got Kelly Johnson to strike out, swinging at a 93-mph fastball, and Yunel Escobar to ground out on a comebacker.

But Doubront knew he wouldnt be able to work that way all afternoon. So, he made some adjustments.

Stay back and just throw the ball and dont think too much, the left-hander said.

The result? His staff-leading sixth win of the season, as he went 6 13 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk with seven strikeouts and two solo home runs. The 6 13 innings match a season high.

Two of the three runs he allowed came on solo home runs, one by Jeff Mathis with one out in the third, the other by Jose Bautista leading off the eighth. The other run (unearned) was a result of his own error on a chopper back to the mound by David Cooper.

I was actually thinking that today he really had better stuff than Ive seen this year as far as crispness with the fastball, good curveball, changeup, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He just kept falling behind guys. But as far as stuffwise, I thought today he had great stuff.

Doubront improved his record to 6-2 with a 3.75 ERA. It was his sixth straight start with at least six strikeouts, matching New Yorks CC Sabathia for most among American League left-handers, and his sixth overall with at least seven strikeouts. He has 66 strikeouts over 62 13 innings this season, for a 9.53 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio.

Hes been solid. Every start hes been solid, Saltalamacchia said. He goes after guys. Same thing every time. Doesnt trick anybody. Just has great stuff, good command, the ball moves. Hes just going up there like a bulldog.

In his last six starts Doubront is 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA, while not giving up more than three earned runs in any of those outings. He has given up six earned runs over his last three starts, all on five home runs.

He does it different ways, said manager Bobby Valentine. Today he showed hes a good pitcher because he was able to win the game without having his best stuff. His 1-ball, 2-strikes count wasnt present and thats usually his trademark. He was behind hitters getting three balls on hitters and still getting them out at times. In the fourth he came up with a good curveball and started throwing it. He figured out a way to keep us in the game to win the game.

For Doubront, who was not assured of a spot in the rotation until the final days of spring training, it was his seventh quality start of the season, matching Josh Beckett for most on the staff. The Sox are 8-3 in games Doubront starts.

I think he has room for improvement, Valentine said. Thats the great thing. Hes done great so far. We are 8-3 in those 11 starts. I think hes going to learn more about this league and about himself and continue to improve. Hes got a dynamite fastball.

All of which has come as a bit of a surprise.

When you talk about a guy winning six games by June 2nd and he hadnt been in the rotation before, I cant say thats what I expected, Valentine said. But I expected quality. I just didnt know what kind of length hes be able to give us. I have an open mind. I remember one meeting in the winter when everyone was being talked about it was general manager Ben Cherington or someone from his department said, Hes out of options. If he doesnt make our team, hes going to make some team and hes going to be in their rotation. At that time I felt, why not our team?

When he gets ahead I think he can be dominating. Instead of going 3-2 as often as he does after he gets ahead on the count I think he can start putting people away. He did it on the one 0-2 count when he got boom fastball strike three, but he wasnt there very often tonight.
Its not confidence. Sometimes its maybe over confidence. You get ahead quickly and then you say now I really have a perfect pitch to make. Watch this one. Hes just missing. When he starts catching the corner with those pitches and starts throwing the pitch thats off the other pitch that theyre checking their swing on, hes not a fun at-bat. I guarantee that.

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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