Red Sox

Red Sox bullpen experiences rare off-night


Red Sox bullpen experiences rare off-night

BOSTON -- Perhaps it was the law of averages.

A Red Sox bullpen which has been so good and so dependable for the past six weeks picked a bad time to have a collective collapse Tuesday night, costing the Red Sox an 8-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Alfredo Aceves allowed two runs in the top of the 10th after the Red Sox had rallied in dramatic fashion with a two-out, two-run homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the ninth.

Aceves walked Mark Reynolds to open the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt, allowed three straight singles, producing two runs.

It was just the second loss for Aceves since April 21.

"They are real good hitters over there,'' said Aceves. "We have to make our pitches. Unfortunately, we didn't get the result that we wanted.''

Trouble started when he put the potential go-ahead runner on base to start the inning.

"I was behind in the count,'' said Aceves. "Every (hitter) that you walk is going to score (in that situation), 100 percent.''

Aceves, who enjoys a heavy workload, hadn't pitched since Saturday, but said the rest wasn't a factor in his being less than sharp.

"It's just part of the job,'' he said. "Unfortunately, we lost. You're going to have bad days, but whatever.''

The two runs allowed by Aceves weren't the first runs scored off the Boston bullpen on the night. In the seventh, with the Red Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead, Bobby Valentine elected to lift starter Jon Lester after a leadoff single.

Scott Atchison, who had strung together 15 straight scoreless appearances covering 19 23 innings, was tagged for two runs when he allowed Lester's run and two more to score on two hits.

"Sooner or later, it was probably going to happen,'' said Atchison, who allowed a run for the first time since April 29. "Unfortunately it happened tonight with a one-run lead. But everything felt the same as it had been.''

Atchison wasn't hit particularly hard, with Robert Andino grounding a ball to right and J.J. Hardy singling to center. But the hits were costly nonetheless.

"Those things are going to happen,'' said Atchison. "It seemed like, with a runner in scoring position, some balls snuck through or were placed well. But that's part of it and there's nothing you can do about it. You can turn around tomorrow night and they can hit
five missles, all right at somebody. It's all part of it.''

Of his snapped scoreless streak, Atchison said: "It's been a good run. I kind of noticed it after a while. But it's over now; I'll get back out there tomorrow and try to start another (scoreless streak). That's kind of the best way to do it and that's what I plan to do.''

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


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


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

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.