Red Sox

Notes: Wheeler's recent struggles continue

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Notes: Wheeler's recent struggles continue

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- Until very recently, Dan Wheeler had been one of the Red Sox' most dependable relievers.

Before Saturday, he had held opponents scoreless in 17 of 19 outings.

Then, things soured over the weekend. He gave up three runs to Texas in an inning and two-thirds Saturday, the most runs he'd allowed in an outing since May 2.

In the 11th inning Monday, Wheeler retired Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson for the first two outs, then left a pitch up to Brett Lawrie, who hammered the pitch to straightaway center for a walkoff homer.

Wheeler hadn't faced Lawrie, a rookie, before, but said that was no excuse.

"I don't think like that," he said. "I think like I just have to go out and make a pitch. That's really what it boils down to. I didn't do that and he hit it pretty good.

"It was supposed to be a fastball down and away, but it didn't quite get there."

Wheeler said it will be his responsibility to put the pitch behind him.

"You have to," he said. "It's the only thing you can do. It's part of it. No one likes to do it. No one likes to go out there and do that, but tomorrow, we've got to come in and try to win a game.

"It wasn't the first time, unfortunately. If you pitch long enough, you put yourself in situations like that. You work hard to not let it happen, but baseball's a funny game."

Even though the Pawtucket Red Sox are headed to the International League playoffs, the Red Sox called up three of their top players -- starting pitcher Kyle Wieland, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and utilityman Nate Spears -- to join the team on Monday.

Weiland and Lavarnway had both been with the Sox earlier this year. Spears has never played in the major leagues.

To make room for Spears on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated Drew Sutton for assignment.

Outfielder Conor Jackson, who ran into the bullpen wall Sunday and came out of the game an inning later, was out of Monday's starting lineup with what Terry Francona termed a "banged-up knee."

Josh Reddick, who was hit on the hand with a pitch Friday night and missed the next two games, returned to the lineup in right.

Clay Buchholz, who has been throwing off flat ground, has an off-day Monday and will resume long-tossing Tuesday from a longer distance.

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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