Red Sox

Notes: Lackey has no answers for struggles

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Notes: Lackey has no answers for struggles

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- While there was much to be happy about with the Sox offense in the 18-9 win over the hapless Orioles Monday night, the starting pitching is still mostly in shambles this month.

John Lackey went just 4 13 innings, giving up eight runs on 11 hits and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. He threw 105 pitches, 75 for strikes. Despite a six-run lead after three innings, Lackey did not stay in the game long enough to qualify for a win.

With the outing, his ERA went from 6.19 to 6.49, while the ERA of Sox starting pitchers in September went from 6.38 to 6.87. It was the 13th time in 19 games this month a Sox starting pitcher has gone just five innings or less.

I thought he actually had pretty good stuff, said manager Terry Francona. I thought he threw a lot of strikes. Had trouble putting hitters away. Pitch count was very high and just got to the point where it was hard to leave him in. We needed to stop the runs now. At that point we were up by 11-8 . . . its hard to leave him in. And I wanted to because I didnt want to get into our bullpen that early.

Contrary to what his manager said, Lackey did not think he had pretty good stuff. After the game, Lackey seemed as frustrated and confused as anyone by his performance.

I cant explain it, Lackey said. Thats the best Ive felt warming up in the bullpen all year. I dont know what the hell happened.

First inning allowing the first three batters to score, I definitely was missing some locations. Probably overthrowing a little bit because I felt pretty good. After that, I mean, youre going to have to go back and look at some of those pitches and look at what happened, just look at the line score.

On this night, his offense was able to pick him up. Lackey, though, has not earned a win in five consecutive starts since Aug. 23, going 0-3 in that span.

Im glad we won, for sure, obviously, but Im pretty frustrated, he said. I dont know what to tell you.

With the team struggling 5-14 this month and after the bullpen had been heavily used in the first game, Lackey wanted to get deeper into his start.

Its like that all the time, he said. You want to try to get deep in a game to keep those guys in line. But especially in a doubleheader you like to go deeper, for sure. But it didnt happen.

Lackeys late-season outing did little to induce confidence in himself or others.

I pitched pretty good my last time out, felt pretty good about it, he said. And tonight, like I said, physically, arm strenghth wise, I felt about as good as I have all year. Had the inning where I got two guys out and the runner got on with a strikeout, giving up two runs. Then had a bases-loaded ball that falls in on me for another two runs. I dont know, man.

Asked if his frustration had been building or was a product of his latest outing, Lackey replied:

Yeah, all of the above.

The seventh inning was the first time the Sox have ever had an inside-the-park home run (Jacoby Ellsbury) and a conventional grand slam (Conor Jackson) in the same inning.

Adrian Gonzalez was lifted for pinch-runner Lars Anderson after his seventh-inning single. Gonzalez appeared to be favoring his left calf, which has been bothering him, going to first base.

Hes a little tender, Francona said. That calfs grabbing at him a little bit. Fortunately speeds not a big part of his game. I think he can manage it. If he cant we wont play him, but I think he can handle it.

Francona expects Gonzalez to play Tuesday.

Gonzalez combined to go 5-for-7 in the doubleheader and how has 203 hits this season. Mo Vaughn is the only other Sox first baseman to ever hit at least 200 hits, with 207 in 1996 and 205 in 1998.

With a double and an inside-the-park home run, Ellsbury has 78 extra-base hits this season, behind only Fred Lynns 82 in 1979 by a Sox center fielder.

Marco Scutaro went 3-for-5 with two RBI. He is hitting .422 (27-for-64) with 18 RBI in 18 games this month. Going 3-for-3 in the first game, he has consecutive 3-hit games for the fifth time in his career and second this season (also Aug. 7 and 8).

Carl Crawford was a late scratch from the starting lineup for Game 1 of the doubleheader because of a stiff neck. He also missed Game 2. Darnell McDonald took his place in left field for Game 1. Conor Jackson played left field for Game 2 and batted 7th.

Manager Terry Francona said J.D. Drew might see a doctor today to have his broken right middle finger looked reevaluated.

Right-hander Dan Wheeler has been dealing with forearm stiffness. Wheeler said he felt something on his last pitch in Toronto on Sept. 7. Hes been playing catch the last few days. There is no structural damage but there is also no timetable for a return to the mound, either.

With the doubleheader in the middle of a long homestand and no off day until Thursday, managing the bullpen can be a challenge.

If youre winning the first game, you go for it, Francona said.

Right-hander Junichi Tazawa has been stretched out, and could go multiple innings, if needed. But he had Tommy John surgery in March 2010 and there has to be some recognition of what hes gone through, Francona said.

Left-hander Erik Bedard, who is scheduled to start Tuesdays game, has not pitched since Sept. 3, sidelined by back and knee ailments. In his last start he went six innings, throwing 101 pitches. Hes not likely to get to that pitch count Tuesday, Francona said.

Triple-A Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur has joined the Sox staff and will be with them through the homestand.

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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