Red Sox

Red Sox cruise to second straight win

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Red Sox cruise to second straight win

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- On Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, the Red Sox finally accomplished what they had been previously unable to do this season: Win consecutive games. With John Lester turning in another strong performance, the Sox beat the Blue Jays 8-1. The win improves their season record to 4-10.

Lester limited the Jays to one run in six innings (plus two batters in the seventh) on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He threw 110 pitches a season high with 65 strikes. While it was his third consecutive quality start, it was just his first win of the season, improving to 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA.

Jesse Litsch (1-1) took the loss for Toronto, going six innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

The Jays took a brief lead in the second inning. Aaron Hill opened the frame with a walk , went to second on J.P. Arencibias single to right, and advanced to third on Travis Sniders double play. After Juan Rivera walked, with Jayson Nix at the plate, Rivera broke for second base, drawing a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Nix in a rundown, Hill crossed the plate before Nix was tagged.

In the bottom of the inning, consecutive one-out singles by Jed Lowrie, J.D. Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied the score. Jacoby Ellsburys home run to right, put the Sox up, 4-1. It the teams first three-run homer of the season. Ellsbury now leads the Sox in home runs, with three, stolen bases (3), and is tied for the lead with three RBI (with David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez).

The Sox extended their lead in the sixth. With two outs Ortiz singled to center, Lowrie reached on Nixs error at third and Drew walked. Saltalamacchia single to right scored Ortiz and Lowrie, with Drew ending the inning getting thrown out at the plate. The three RBI are the most for Saltalamacchia since he tallied four on May 5, 2009, while with the Rangers.

The Sox added two runs in the eighth. Loading the bases with no outs, Lind could not handle Lowries grounder down the first-base line, scoring Gonzalez, who doubled to left-center, and Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch for the 70th time in his career (behind only Mo Vaughn with 71 all-time on the Red Sox list).

Lesters day was done after allowing an infield single toArencibia to open the seventh, and an error by Lowrie on Sniders grounder put two runners on. Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler combined to hold the Jays scoreless the rest of the way.

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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