Red Sox

Ross, Gonzalez step in for injured Red Sox

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Ross, Gonzalez step in for injured Red Sox

BOSTON -- Following Wednesday night's 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park, Bobby Valentine was reminded -- during his post game press conference -- of the obvious fact that his offense did all of this damage without David Ortiz.
Valentine stepped in and reminded everyone that he wasn't the only player the Red Sox were missing.
"Without David and Dustin actually," said Valentine.
Ortiz and Pedroia have been two of the biggest pieces to this Red Sox offense over the years, but both find themselves on the disabled list. They hope that Wednesday night will be the last game that Pedroia misses, while Ortiz was just placed on the DL before the game.
With both missing on Wednesday against the White Sox, the Red Sox needed someone to step up. Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez did just that.
The two hit third and fourth, respectively, in Boston's lineup, and they combined for six hits, three home runs, and all 10 RBIs.
Ross led the way with six of those RBIs, and two of those home runs -- both three-run bombs that cleared the monster seats. His first came in the bottom of the third, breaking a 1-1 tie with a three-run bomb down the left-field line. His second came in the very next inning, putting the Red Sox up 7-1.
"Cody swung the bat really well, there's no doubt about that," said Valentine after the win. "Two homers and a double. Ya know, you're standing in there, and you start looking at this small sample of that lineup, and you have the two left-handers in front of Ross and the two left-handers behind him, he's kind of sitting in a rocking chair, you know?
"And it didn't seem like pitches were working as well against him, as they were against the left-handers. It's kind of interesting. And he made him pay. A great job."
And Ross nearly had a third home run. Bat flip and home-run skip and all, Ross thought it was gone, but it ended up hitting the monster and was in there for a double.
Either way, Wednesday night marked Ross' 10th-career multi-homer game, and his third of the season. He now has 15 home runs on the year, with 10 of those coming at Fenway Park.
"I had a good feeling Fenway would be a good spot for me," said Ross after Wednesday night's win. "With that being said, Fenway could work against you. If you're thinking consciously all the time that you want to hit the ball over the wall, chances are youre not going to do it. You're probably going to pull a lot of balls foul or roll a lot of balls over, so my thought process is, stay hard up the middle, try to hit the balls as hard as I can up the middle, and my swing path will create that lift that will allow me to hit a lot of fly balls. And this is just definitely a great place to hit for a right-handed pull hitter."
"When Ben signed him during the winter, he had said, 'I think he's going to have a lot of success at home, in particular.' And he has had success here," said Valentine. "He looks really good hitting here. But he's hit all year, big hits, here and on the road."
The same thing can be said as of late for Gonzalez, who had four RBI on Wednesday including a solo home run into the monster seats in the fourth inning that resulted in back-to-back home runs with Ross, putting the Red Sox up 8-1.
But Gonzalez' biggest hit of the game came in the bottom of the first inning, as he lined a two-out RBI-single to right field that scored Jacoby Ellsbury from second to tie the game at 1-1.
Gonzalez has now hit safely in 22 of his last 23 games. He has a four-game hitting streak after Wednesday night, but as Valentine pointed out, had Gonzalez not left the July 8 Yankees game with an illness after only one at-bat, he would have a 23-game hitting streak.
"He's driving runs in, he's using the whole field, he's hitting all pitches, fouling off the tough ones," said Valentine. "He looks like the real Adrian Gonzalez, right at the right time."
And Gonzalez' teammates point out that he's got his swagger back.
"Hes probably one of the hottest hitters in the game right now," said Ross. "Hes got that confidence back and that swag back that Ive seen for years playing against him. And every time he comes up, hes got a chance to do damage, and hes such a fun hitter to watch when hes going good. He sprays the ball all over the place and has a lot of power and can hit the ball over that monster too."
He did just that on Wednesday night, him and Ross.

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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