Red Sox

Leon's 'athletic slide' gives Red Sox a 9-8, 10-inning win over Royals

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Leon's 'athletic slide' gives Red Sox a 9-8, 10-inning win over Royals

BOSTON -- Sandy Leon certainly looked nifty at the right time.

The stocky Leon slid into home plate and avoided catcher Drew Butera's tag on Eduardo Nunez's ground out in the 10th inning Saturday night, lifting the Boston Red Sox past Kansas City 9-8 to end the Royals' nine-game winning streak.

"I saw him reach for the ball, so the right side was wide open so I decided to go for it without him touching me," Leon said. "It was close, but he didn't touch me."

Nunez also hit two solo homers over the Green Monster for the Red Sox, improving to 5 for 9 in two games since being acquired from San Francisco for two minor-league pitchers earlier in the week.

Lorenzo Cain hooked a three-run homer around the right-field pole and Whit Merrifield had a career-best four hits - all singles - for the Royals, who were looking to match their longest win streak since June 2014.

The Red Sox won for just the second time in seven games and remained one-half game behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

Leon opened the 10th with a double off the Green Monster against Mike Minor (5-3). After Mookie Betts was intentionally walked, both moved up on a wild pitch before Nunez hit a grounder that shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stab of and threw to first. Leon, who halted on the play, headed home on the throw to first and beat Eric Hosmer's throw by slipping his hand around the tag.

"He made a very instinctive play and an athletic slide. I know that seems kind of odd because that's Sandy," Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield said. "But he made an athletic slide."

After a delay to confirm the call, the Red Sox celebrated.

"I didn't know what was going on. I was running so hard, I was mad when he dove so I didn't know what was going on," Nunez said. "When I see Leon going to home plate, I was like, `What's going on? Why is he there?' What's going on?"

Royals manager Ned Yost waited and knew it was over after a replay.

"We missed the tag at the plate, but (Escobar) made a great play stopping it and wheeling and throwing to first and (Hosmer) got rid of it as quick as he could," he said. "It was just a tough play. It was a great slide."

Matt Barnes (6-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

Boston tied it on Betts' sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Trailing 6-4 in the sixth, Kansas City scored four runs on two hits, two walks and the two errors. Reliever Blaine Boyer also had a wild pitch and Christian Vazquez a passed ball.

Third baseman Rafael Devers booted Escobar's grounder to open the inning and Alex Gordon walked. Both moved up on the wild pitch. Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio had consecutive RBI singles to tie it. After Nunez threw high on an attempted force at second and a run scored, Salvador Perez's sacrifice fly made it 8-6.

The Red Sox had moved ahead by scoring twice in the fourth and fifth. Vazquez had an RBI double and scored on Devers' single. Nunez hit his second homer leading off the fifth, and the other scored on Mike Moustakas' fielding error.

Cain's homer cleared the short wall and Betts' glove as he leaped, slipping into the first row to make it 4-2.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: C Perez was in the lineup after taking a foul tip off his left thigh that sent him to the ground late in Friday's win. He had left Tuesday's game and sat out Wednesday with soreness on his right side.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was scratched because of soreness in his left knee after being in the original lineup. "There's days where it will act up a little bit," manager John Farrell said. Nunez, originally set to start at shortstop, was moved to second and Xander Bogaerts back in to short.

BAD KARMA

In Bogaerts' first two times up, he came to the wrong "walk-up song." Luke Bryan's `Country Girl' was played over the PA instead of his usual `Gonna Give it to Ya' by DMX.

He was thrown out on the bases after reaching both times.

ROUGH DEBUT

Kansas City starter Trevor Cahill gave up eight hits and five runs over four innings in his Royals' debut.

He was acquired in a six-player trade with San Diego on Monday.

"Not very good," he said. "The offense did a good job of coming back. But it'd be nice to throw some more zeroes up there because they're making the other pitcher work and putting some good at-bats together."

MINOR MOVE

The Red Sox traded minor league LHP Luis Ysla to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday for cash considerations. He was 1-5 with a 5.05 ERA with Double-A Portland.

UP NEXT

Royals: RHP Jason Hammel (4-8, 4.81 ERA) is set for the series finale. He's winless in his last six starts, but beat Boston for his last victory on June 19.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (10-4, 3.59) looks to extend his career-best streak of winning his last four decisions.

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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