Red Sox

McAdam: N.L. clubs out of Sox' league

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McAdam: N.L. clubs out of Sox' league

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BOSTON -- Under a realignment plan being discussed by Major League Baseball, two 15-team leagues would be created, creating the mathmatical need for interleague series be played throughout the season.

Surely, this has caught the eye of Red Sox ownership and given them ideas: Wouldn't it be great to play National League teams all the time?

For the Red Sox, indeed it would.

Facing the National League is tantamount to an exhibition game for the Sox, like playing their Triple-A affiliate.

That much was evident again Monday night, when the Red Sox had their way with the San Diego Padres, 14-5. Ho-hum.

Another N.L. opponent, another lopsided win. So what else is new?

The Sox have now played seven games against opponents from the N.L. and won five. In four of those five wins, the Red Sox have scored double figures. In five games, they're averaging a hair over 11 runs per game.

That's not competition; it's a vacation.

The current homestand has featured two teams from the National League, the Brewers and Padres. The Red Sox have had at least 10 hits in four of the five.

And while the Cubs -- an earlier interleague opponent -- and Padres aren't anyone's ideas of a good team, there's the distinct feeling that, other than the Phillies, Giants and perhaps one or two other clubs, it wouldn't matter much.

A huge gulf still remains between the two leagues.

True, the National League has won two of the last three World Series. But the senior circuit's improvement is top-heavy and limited to, at most, a handful of teams.

The average N.L. team is no match for an average A.L. club, and the numbers bear it out, to say nothing of the circumstantial evidence playing out at Fenway. Since the start of 2006, the American League boasts a winning percentage of .567 against its National League brethren; this season, AL teams are 56-40.

The Brewers, as an example, are in the thick of the N.L. Central race, a mere half-game out of first place in their division.

At Fenway, however, they were exposed. Though they managed a win behind crafty lefty Randy Wolf in the middle game of the series, they lost the other two games by a combined scored of 22-7. Starter Shaun Marcum, who pitched in the American League just last year, looked terrified of the Red Sox lineup in the first inning, needing 42 pitches to get the first three outs.

It was more of the same Monday when San Diego's Wade LeBlanc used up 39 pitches in the top of the first.

The astounding thing about the Red Sox' 14-run outburst Monday is the fact that San Diego's pitching staff came into the game ranked third in staff ERA in the N.L. Naturally, that number is influenced by the fact that the Padres play half their home games in cavernous Petco Park, which is slightly smaller in dimensions than Yosemite.

Yet in the seventh inning, the parade of Padres pitchers looked -- sorry, there's no other word to describe this -- scared. What else do you call it when back-to-back bases-loaded situations resulted in hit batsmen?

In all, the Padres issued nine walks, in addition to allowing the Sox to hit .389 (14-for-36) for the game.

This kind of domination isn't anything new for the Red Sox. Since the start of 2010, the Red Sox are 18-6 (.750) against the N.L. Since 2003, the year before Terry Francona was hired, the Sox are an astounding 100-51, one loss shy of a .667 pace.

And yet, there's hope yet for National League opponents. This weekend, the Red Sox will have play in National League cities, where the DH is not available to them. That means, except for a game or two, when the Sox might stick Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield, the Sox will be without David Ortiz.

From an offensive standpoint, it's the baseball equivalent of playing with one hand tied behind their backs. Maybe that will help level what is, for now, a very uneven playing field.

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

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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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