Red Sox

Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

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Notes: Rough one for Stewart; Ross homers

BALTIMORE -- Zach Stewart's second start was only marginally better than his first. And that meant it wasn't very good at all.

Stewart was rocked for five runs on seven hits in just 2 23 innings in the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Sunday.

That wasn't quite as bad as his first outing, when he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in just three innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Aug. 29 -- but the improvement was minimal.

"A little rusty,'' offered Valentine of Stewart, who hadn't pitched since the International League playoffs on Sept. 12. "Before you knew it, it was five runs (on the scoreboard). He'll have better days, that's for sure.''

Stewart gave up three runs in the first. Then he allowed a leadoff homer to Chris Davis, and two more singles before he could get through the third.

"I didn't feel like I was very consistent,'' said Stewart, "and against a team like that, you have to be consistent. They're good and they showed what they can do. I felt like I threw some good pitches and when I kept the ball down, it was good. But I just didn't do that consistently enough.''

These two outings, of course, weren't exactly the impression that Stewart wanted to make.

"I'm just going to take all the mistakes -- and there were a lot of them -- and just work from there,'' said Stewart. "It's not good to go into the off-season on these two starts, but I felt like the last couple of starts in Pawtucket were good and I'm just going to build on that and go from there and try to improve on that.''

Cody Ross homered in the fourth, giving him 22 for the season. But just as valuable, according to Valentine, is Ross's every-day presence in the lineup and durability.

Ross missed exactly a month -- from May 19 to June 19 -- with a broken foot, but has otherwise played in 127 games. Only Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles played more among position players.

"He and Dustin have really been the only ones to go the post more often than everyone else,'' said Valentine. "That's very commendable. Cody's been a warrior. He's never asked out. He's been clutch. He's been fun to have on the team. He's a very good teammates. Cody knows the difference between right and wrong and that's a good leadership quality. I think a lot of guys can follow Cody's lead.''

The Sox have been out of contention for the better part of the last six weeks, but Ross remains a constant in the lineup.

"I've pretty much asked him every day (about his availability) and he's never even shied away from it. We need more like him -- people understand that his way is the best way.''

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was not in the starting lineup Sunday, is nonetheless a homer away from trying the club record for most homers in a season by a player whose primary position is at catcher.

Saltalamacchia hit his 25th homer Friday night. Carlton Fisk hit 26 in both 1973 and 1977.

"When you get that kind of offense from your catcher,'' said Valentine, "you can possibly get less offense from other positions (and survive). I think it's very valuable. The power is there. He just needs to do a little more with the other at-bats.

"A lot of his home run earlier in the season were real crucial home runs, real big. As a matter of fact, he hasn't had many where the game's been out of reach, as I remember.''

One problem for Saltalamacchia is his strikeout total. He's fanned 135 times in 395 at-bats. His selectivity could improve, too -- he's walked just 37 times for an on-base pecentage of .291.

But Valentine noticed other improvements in Saltalamacchia's game.

"He's not a one-dimensional guy anymore,'' said Valentine. "Going into the season, I think he had this rap where there were a lot of things he couldn't do. I think there's a lot of things he can do as a catcher. People thought he was (just) an offensive catcher. But I think he's great with the pitchers. He's thrown the ball efficiently; the numbers show that they stole a lot of bases against him, but a lot of them had nothing to do with him. And he's blocked the ball extremely well.''

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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