Red Sox

Red Sox' streak snapped vs. Rays, 4-0

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Red Sox' streak snapped vs. Rays, 4-0

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com Red SoxInsider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla -- The Red Sox' mighty offense, which had averaged slightly better than nine runs in the last week and a half, ground to a halt at Tropicana Field, and with it came an end to the team's nine-game winning streak.

The Sox were held to just five hits by James Shields as the Tampa Bay Rays posted a 4-0 shutout. All five of the Boston hits -- three by Adrian Gonzalez -- were singles.

Carl Crawford, returning to Tropicana Field for the first time since leaving the Rays last December, was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers, and went hitless in three plate appearances.

Tim Wakefield pitched well, allowing just four hits over seven innings, but was saddled with his first loss since May 6.

Wakefield threw 119 pitches, the most he's thrown in a single outing since Sept. 18, 2003.

The Rays got a solo homer from Jason Ruggiano for their first run in the fifth and later added a second when, with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was charged with a passed ball as Evan Longoria crossed the plate.

They added two more runs off Tommy Hottovy and Alfredo Aceves in the eighth.

STAR OF THE GAME: James Shields
Shields tossed his third complete-game shutout of the season, limiting the Sox to just five hits all night -- all of them singles.

In so doing, Shields became the first American League pitcher to post three shutouts by mid-June in 17 seasons.

HONRABLE MENTION: Tim Wakefield
Wakefield got absolutely no run support, but deserved a better fate than to be left with the loss.

He limited the Rays to just two runs over seven innings and one of those was unearned, scoring on a passed ball. It was Wakefield's first loss since May 6.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Kevin Youkilis
The Sox were punchless at the plate most of the night, but Youkilis struggled more than most.

In the first, he struck out with runners at first and third. Then, in both the third and sixth, he hit into inning-ending double plays.

In all, Youkilis stranded five baserunners.

TURNING POINT: In the third inning, with runners at first and second, Youkilis hit into an inning-ending double play. After that, the Sox never put a baserunner in scoring position.

BY THE NUMBERS: Wakefield threw 119 pitches, the most he's thrown in an outing since Sept. 18, 2003.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I'm going to try to make tomorrow feel as normal as possible. Today, I can't lie, it didn't feel like a normal day for me.'' -- Carl Crawford after returning to Tropicana Field for the first time since leaving the Rays.

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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