Red Sox

Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

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Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- Compared to what the first three starters did in Texas over the weekend, Josh Beckett didn't pitch badly Tuesday night. But as Beckett was the first to acknowledge, it wasn't good enough, either.

Beckett allowed three runs over five innings and had only two hard-hit balls against him. But thanks to long innings and high pitch counts in the third, fourth and fifth, he was done after five at 106 pitches.

After needing just 24 pitches to get through the first two innings, Beckett threw 35 pitches in the third, 24 more in the fourth and 23 in the fifth. That totaled 106 after five.

"That's a lot of effort,'' said Terry Francona. "They made him work so hard the second time through the order. Give them some credit -- we talk about grinding out at-bats. They did a good job on that. They did it better than we did.''

"They grinded some good at-bats,'' agreed Beckett (0-1). "You've got to get ahead. That's when most of the hits occurred, when I wasn't ahead. I was getting behind and having to challenge different parts of the plate.

"Instead of commanding the at-bat, I felt like getting behind forced me to throw more pitches over the plate . . . You can't throw 105 pitches over five innings. You're not going to survive very long.''

Beckett's changeup was a plus pitch for most of the night and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia remarked that his curveball, which had been inconsistent throughout spring training, was much improved Tuesday night.

"In spring training, we had trouble throwing the curveball and getting the ball down,'' said Saltalamacchia. "Tonight, he was getting the ball down when he needed to. And on top of that, his fastball, when he wanted to throw the ball down, he threw it down there, which is a great sign because in spring training we were fighting that.

"I think he's trusting himself more and not worrying about mechanics as much as just getting the ball down and getting outs.''

Saltalamacchia, who was 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in the series in Texas, finally got his first hit of the season and it was well-timed: a two-out single in the third to score the first -- and as it turned out, only -- run of the night, scoring David Ortiz.

J.D. Drew, who had been on second, also tried to score but was gunned down at the plate by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

"I felt all right,'' Saltalamacchia said. "I'm getting there at the plate. But we've all got to jump and do something at the plate, myself included.''

In the sixth inning, Saltalamacchia didn't get a throw off as Cleveland first baseman Matt LaPorta utilized a delayed steal to swipe second with one out, but it wasn't an example of Saltalamacchia battling some of the well-documented issues he dealt with last year.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro was a bit late getting to cover the second-base bag and Saltalamacchia didn't want to throw down and risk throwing the ball into center field.

Said Francona: "We were a little late. They delayed and we were a little late. It's one of those things where Scoot was probably going to be there in time, but it's hard to throw to an unoccupied base. I thought Salty actually bounced up pretty good ready to throw.''

The Indians stole a total of three bases. In the third, Michael Brantley stole second and Saltalamacchia's throw bounced past Scutaro for a throwing error as Brantley moved up to third.

Immediately after, Asdrubal Cabrera walked and also stole second, but Saltalamacchia decided not to throw through, fearing that Branley might break for the plate.

Tuesday night saw the Indians use a shift against Adrian Gonzalez, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera swung over to the right side of the infield and third baseman Jack Hannahan moved over to where the shortstop would normally be positioned.

The shift paid off in the fourth inning for the Indians. Dustin Pedroia had singled to lead off the inning, but with the shift on, Gonzalez hit a groundball to the right side which was fielded by Cabrera, who began a 6-5-3 double-play.

Gonzalez is hardly a traditional pull hitter, but like J.D. Drew, when he hits the ball on the ground, it's often to the right of second base.

"Last year, it probably helped me more,'' said Gonzalez. "I hit more balls to the third-base side then the pull side. It's just something that managers feel comfortable doing for whatever reason.

"But I think it helps me rather hurts me. Obviously, not tonight when I'm chasing pitches out of the zone.''

If there was a bright spot on the night, it was the work of the Boston bullpen.

The trio of Matt Albers, Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard combined to toss three scoreless innings and had eight strikeouts between them.

"Our guys did a good job,'' said Francona. "Our starters have been leaving pretty early, so we were trying to piece it together without using everybody. Jenks threw the ball great and it was nice to see Bard come back and put a zero up.''

Albers and Jenks each fanned three while walking a hitter. Bard, who was roughed up in the season opener for four runs, enjoyed a 1-2-3 eighth, recording two strikeouts and a ground ball.

Pedroia, who had two of the Red Sox' four hits, has hit safely in all four games to date . . . Scutaro was hitless in three at-bats and has yet to get a hit, going 0-for-11 in the three games he's started at shortstop . . . The announced attendance at Progressive Field was just 9,025. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the smallest crowd to watch the Red Sox in more than a decade. The last time they had a smaller crowd was July 5, 2000, when just 8,488 attended one of their games in the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

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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