Red Sox

Fourth inning gets best of Buchholz in otherwise solid outing

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Fourth inning gets best of Buchholz in otherwise solid outing

SEATTLE -- On the stat sheet, Clay Buchholz is no different than the five Red Sox starters who preceded him to the mound on this nightmarish road trip: like them, he was tagged with yet another loss Monday.

But a closer inspection showed that Buchholz threw far better than almost all of them and, with a little better support and a pinch of luck, might have been able to snap the Sox' losing streaks instead of extending it to seven straight.

Buchholz gave the Sox seven innings Monday, six of which were very good. It was the fourth inning, in which the Seattle Mariners scored all four of their runs on the afternoon, that sank him.

"Clay did what he had to do," said Bobby Valentine. "The one inning . . . well, you saw it."

"Clay deserved better than what we allowed to happen," said catcher Ryan Lavarnway. "He deserved better than that."

The inning began with what Valentine labeled a "broken-bat jam-shot'' in which Franklin Gutierrez reached. Buchholz then barely grazed Kyle Seager's uniform top with an inside pitch, giving the Mariners two on with nobody out.

Two singles to right from John Jaso and Justin Smoak produced two runs. A flyball to shallow center off the bat of Eric Thames was caught in shallow center by Jacoby Ellsbury, who threw home only to have the ball skip past catcher Ryan Lavarnway, with the error charged to Ellsbury.

"I wish they'd given me that error," said Lavarnway. "Jacoby's trying to get the guy out. He did exactly what he should have. I played it into an in-between hop. I need to go out and smother that ball. I absolutely need to keep that ball in front of me."

Two batters later, Jose Iglesias bobbled the transfer of the ball after fielding a grounder, allowing Carlos Peguero to reach and Smoak to score.

Outside of the fourth, Buchholz yielded just two other hits and one walk. He had four one-two-three innings. But the Sox' margin of error is razor thin these days and the fourth inning proved his undoing.

"Tough luck today," shrugged Buchholz of the inning. "Stuff happens. I've been saying for about a month and a half now, but we've got to find a way to push along. We can't come to the field every day thinking about the day before. You've got to sort of forget about it.

"We're not really playing good baseball right now and not finding a way to win in all aspects of the game. It's pretty tough."

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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