Red Sox

McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

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McAdam: Sox continue to beat up on Sabathia

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BOSTON -- In four games against CC Sabathia this season, the Red Sox are 4-0 and have scored six or more runs in three of the four games.

But ask them to explain their success against the big lefty and the Red Sox suddenly seemed more overmatched by the question that Sabathia himself.

It's a mystery to them, too, why Sabathia is 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against everyone else in baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Sox.

Perhaps they were just being polite, but the Sox had far fewer answers than they had runs scored.

"Believe me,'' said manager Terry Francona, "it's not like we see him and think, 'Oh, we're going to lunch up on this guy.' He's good. He's really good.''

Against lineups other than the Red Sox, yes. He had allowed seven runs in his last eight starts combined; Saturday night, he gave up seven to the Red Sox by the end of the sixth inning.

Sabathia found himself in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the fourth after his teammates had negated a two-run third with two runs of their own off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the top of the fourth.

But just as quickly, the Sox exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fourth to blow the game open, with the big hit coming on Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run blast into the seats in right.

Asked to explain the Red Sox' almost inexplicable success against Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia offered: "I don't know -- luck, I guess. He's got great stuff. We know what CC's about. He's a competitor. He's their horse.

"But we've been able to get big hits at the right time. We did that today.''

Pedroia said the Sox haven't necessarily taken the same approach against Sabathia in each of the four starts. Against an experienced ace like Sabathia, the methodology has to change because Sabathia won't fall into predictable patterns.

"You're only going to get one pitch to hit -- if that -- each at-bat,'' said Pedroia. "You've got to make sure you hit it (when you get the chance).''

Surely, the Red Sox' habit of grinding out at-bats serves them well against Sabathia. For the most part, Red Sox hitters don't often get themselves out by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.

Instead, they work pitchers and grind, getting themselves in hitter's counts, then taking full advantage.

It helps, too, that the Sox know what to expect from Sabathia. The more teams see a pitcher, the more familiar they get.

Finally, this Red Sox team has a habit of rising to a challenge. Last year, they were able to beat perennial Cy Young Award candidates like Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, while chasing Ubaldo Jiminez.

"You want to rise to the occasion against good pitchers,'' said hitting coach Dave Magadan.

"We grind out at-bats, get on base and try to wear him down,'' shrugged Adrian Gonzalez.

"Good pitchers like that,'' offered David Ortiz, "it's just the one inning where they make a few mistakes and things like that happen. It happened to (Jon Lester) the other day. Today, he had that one inning when he made the mistake to Ellsbury.''

To put into historical perspective, the last time the Red Sox beat a Yankee starter four times in the same season was 1975, when they did so to Pat Dobson.

Sabathia, meanwhile, had never lost to the same team four times in the same year until he was saddled with another defeat to the Sox on Saturday.

"We've made him work and we've gotten some big hits in two-out situations,'' said Magadan, reflecting back on the four wins against Sabathia. "But there's no secret. You need to make him work. When you have at-bats against CC or Felix (Hernandez), you don't want to have those one-pitch at-bats where it makes their job easier.''

"I'm glad (we've had success against him),'' said Francona, ''because at some point, you have to beat pitchers like that. He's had his way with a lot of teams, (but) we've given him a good battle. I'm sure we'll face him a few times.''

Unlike other teams, they'll do so with some confidence.

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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