Red Sox

Miller solid in first start for Red Sox

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Miller solid in first start for Red Sox

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON It's been a long wait for Andrew Miller's Red Sox debut.

Acquired from the Marlins in November. Non-tendered soon after that and becoming a free agent. Re-signing with the Sox, but with an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent again if he wasn't on the major-league roster on June 15. Starting the year in Pawtucket. Struggling with his command early in Triple-A, but then finding his rhythm as the opt-out date approached. Recalled to Boston. Tabbed to start Monday night against San Diego.

Yes, it's been a long wait. And for Miller, a former first-round pick (sixth overall) of the Tigers in 2006, it was not without some degree of pressure.

Completely honest, probably quite a bit, he said when asked if he felt some pressure. I think this was something that from the moment I found out I was going to get a start here, you think about it a little bit. For me in my situation, I had a lot of time to think about it. It wasnt like it was the night before or anything like that. So, it had gone through my head, but I trusted that I was prepared and I was throwing the ball well and I was going to go out there and have a good outing here.

Fortunately for me in my situation, I do have some big-league experience. It hasnt been in Boston but I think that certainly helps it. I certainly wasnt as anxious or nervous as probably most guys who come in here for the first time.

Facing the Padres, Miller went 5 23 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and three walks with six strikeouts.

He did a good job, said catcher Jason Varitek. All in all, his stuffs good. Threw some real good changeups and pitched out of one situation earlier, man on third, no outs and did a real good job of doing it.

Really good, really encouraging, manager Terry Francona said of Millers outing. His changeup was really good. Solid breaking ball. Theres a lot to be encouraged about. Just made a bad pitch and paid for it.

The bad pitch was to Orlando Hudson, who blasted a three-run homer with one out in the sixth and tied the game at 3-3. Miller was lifted not long afterwards, and thus wasn't involved in the decision as the Sox exploded for 10 runs in the bottom of the seventh en route to a 14-5 victory.

Still, Miller agreed: There was a lot to like Monday night.

It was a lot of fun, Miller said. I think any time you get to pitch in Fenway is going to be fun and especially to go out there with a Red Sox uniform on is a blast.

"Unfortunately, the last inning kind of brought me down to reality a bit. But, all in all, its hard to beat that experience.

With Triple-A Pawtucket, Miller posted a record of 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 games, with 61 strikeouts and 35 walks in 65 23 innings, holding batters to an International League-best .181 average. In his four starts, since he adjusting his pregame routine, he was 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA, with 26 strikeouts and just three walks. The 6-foot, 7-inch Miller, who has been plagued by control issues during his career, had allowed just one walk in his last three outings, spanning 18 13 innings.

The first walk he gave up Monday was to Cameron Maybin, Milllers former teammate and roommate with the Tigers and Marlins. Miller and Maybin were both part of the seven-player trade that sent them from Detroit (with three other players) to Florida for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis after the 2007 season. After that he struck out Maybin on a curveball in the fourth and got him to line out to Jacoby Ellsbury in the sixth.

In that first at-bat I didnt really command my fastball to him, Miller said. I think it was in my head a little bit. And after that, ultimately, Im still pitching. But for me, being a friend of his and coming up with him and all, its certainly probably as close to any hitter Ive faced maybe as far as having a personal relationship with him and then having to face him in a game at this level. But, still Im just looking at the catcher and looking at the mitt. So that really wasnt too big of an issue.

Miller handled the Padres well for most of his outing. His first dose of trouble came in the fourth, when Jesus Guzman led off with a triple off the wall in center field. But Miller retired the next three batters, keeping San Diego off the scoreboard for the time being.

But with one out and two runners on in the sixth, the Padres broke through. On the first pitch of the at-bat a 91-mph fastball Hudson delivered a laser into the back row of the Monster seats, tying the score with his first home run of the season.

After the Hudson homer, Miller got Maybin to line out before Anthony Rizzos double into the triangle in center field ended Millers night.

Francona was pleased with Millers outing.

Weve seen what hes done in Triple-A, Francona said. He deserves so much credit. He went and worked on things and the last four, five, six starts was really starting to put together some really good starts. Hes got some moving parts in his delivery. Tall. Lanky. He walked a couple of guys and came right back and made pitches.

The one time they had a runner on third, nobody out, he really executed. Theres a lot to like. This kid can pitch. Sometimes you have to kind of catch a break to acquire a good pitcher. Maybe we did.

For Miller, who made his major league debut with the Marlins less than three weeks after signing in 2006 but has spent almost as much time in the minor as he has in the big leagues since, theres one way to ensure that he remains in the major leagues, bringing to fruition the promise he has always had.

I think physically at times Ive shown that I have the ability to succeed at this level against the best teams, he said. Its ultimately though you got to do it all the time and I think confidence is huge in that. You build that by success and success breeds confidence. I think thats what Im looking to do and I certainly am aware of that.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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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