Red Sox

Rally fizzles; Pedroia scuffles

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Rally fizzles; Pedroia scuffles

BOSTON With the Red Sox trailing by three runs going into the eighth inning Friday night against the Braves, there were fleeting thoughts that they might be able to duplicate their eighth-inning dramatics of the night before.

After all, the sparkplug to Thursdays three-run, game-winning rally, Will Middlebrooks, was leading off, followed by Ryan Kalish, Mike Aviles, and Daniel Nava, who all played key roles in the outburst.

Middlebrooks and his teammates had been virtually stymied up to that point in the game by Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens, making his first big league start since April 23. Jurrjens had allowed just three baserunners through the first seven innings a first-inning single by Adrian Gonzalez, a third-inning walk to Nava, and hitting Middlebrooks with a pitch in the fifth.

Middlebrooks came through in the eighth with a lead-off double, off the wall in center field. After Kalish flied out to center field and Aviles grounded out to shortstop, Nava doubled to center, scoring Middlebrooks and ending Jurrjens outing.

Chad Durbin replaced Jurrjens on the mound to face Dustin Pedroia. But Pedroia grounded out to short to end the Red Sox hopes, as they fell to the Braves, 4-1.

Pedroia missed six games after leaving the May 28 game against the Tigers with a slight tear in the adductor muscle of his right thumb. He avoided the disabled list. But, in 15 games since returning to the lineup, Pedroia is batting .145, going 9-for-62, with three extra-base hits, all doubles, five RBI, five walks, and 10 strikeouts. His average has fallen from .295 to .264 in that span.

Today he actually said he felt fine, like its over, manager Bobby Valentine said. It probably did take three weeks plus to heal. And I thought his swings tonight were pretty good. The ball he hit to right field in the sixth was one of the best balls he hit to right field in a long time.

Just pitchers, theres a lot of pitchers that theyre pitching him tough. He hasnt gotten those pitches that he can really drive. And hes battling. Hell get hot. Hotter than a firecracker.

Asked if he would consider moving Pedroia out of his customary No. 2 spot in the lineup, Valentine replied:

Theres been a lot of consideration but I think Pedroia getting hot is right around the corner.

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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