Red Sox

McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox

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McAdam: One of those days for Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas --- Their best starter gave up five runs, thanks to a career-worst three homers allowed. Their most dependable reliever allowed four runs in the eighth after his teammates had come from behind to forge a tie.

It was that kind of day for the Red Sox.

Nine runs off their two best pitchers? If that happens often, or even more than occasionally, the Red Sox are in a load of trouble.

For this one day, Opening Day, it meant a loss.

"I think everyone is pretty much feeling the same way,'' said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "It happened. Now we need to get over it . . . It happens. It's part of baseball. It happens every day. We're out there to perform and some days we do and sometimes we don't. We got beat today.''

Prior to the opener, the focus had been on getting to Texas starter C.J. Wilson, who was 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA against Boston last year. After all the debates about the lineup, the Sox fared well against Wilson, getting four runs off him and running his pitch count up to the point where he was done after 5 23 innings.

But trouble came from their own pitchers.

Lester has been the Red Sox' best starter for much of the last three seasons, compiling 50 wins since the start of 2008. But Friday at The Ballpark in Arlington, he twice, uncharacteristically, spit up two-run leads.

After a two-run first for the Boston, Lester yielded a solo homer on his second pitch of the game to Ian Kinsler, then a game-tying home run to Nelson Cruz in the second. Then, after the Sox went up 4-2 in the third, Lester gave that back and more when he yielded a three-run homer to Mike Napoli in the fourth.

"I don't think it was a bad pitch,'' said Terry Francona of Lester's pitch to Napoli. "I think it was down and probably borderline out of the strike zone. But he's a big strong kid and he's hurt us before.''

Summing up Lester's afternoon, Francona concluded: "He just missed over the middle too much.''

"Things didn't go the way I wanted, obviously,'' said Lester.

He failed to strike out a single batter for the first time since 2008.

"I had a pretty good two-seamer today,'' said Lester. "But for whatever reason, we couldn't get many swings-and-misses.''

Indeed, 12 of the 16 outs Lester recorded were on the ground, including the first nine in a row. But over his final 2 13 innings, he began elevating the ball more and, with Napoli in particular, paid for it.

As spotty as Lester was, the Sox clawed back and tied the game on a David Ortiz solo homer in the top of the eighth. When the Sox brought Bard in, they were only tied, but the Sox are ordinarily so confident with Bard in the game, that seemed insignificant.

"We were thrilled to get to Bard,'' said Francona. "I thought he got under a few pitches and didn't locate. That probably happens a lot of times, but you somehow get them out. His command just wasn't what it normally is.''

Bard got the first out, then threw an ill-advised slider on a 3-and-2 pitch to Napoli. When it missed for ball four, the Rangers had the go-ahead runner on base.

"That's the one I'd take back,'' lamented Bard. "It was kind of an unaggressive pitch and kind of set the tone and got the ball rolling for them.''

A single to Yorvit Torrealba pushed Napoli into scoring position, bringing David Murphy to the plate, pinch-hitting for Julio Borbon.

"I made exactly the pitch I wanted to make,'' insisted Bard. "We were going sinker, down-and-away. It was at the knees, outer black and he just barely got the bat to it. Three inches to the left, it's a foul ball and we're having a different conversation.''

Instead, the looper that the left-handed Murphy clunked down the left-field line hit the chalk -- a fair ball -- and two runs scored.

It was that kind of day for the Red Sox.

"You have to ignore the result sometimes,'' said Bard, offering context and perspective, two qualities not always found in Opening Day losses.

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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