Red Sox

Scott makes fixes while Chapman flounders in Red Sox walk-off win

Scott makes fixes while Chapman flounders in Red Sox walk-off win

BOSTON — It’s a weird time when Robby Scott looks better than Aroldis Chapman, but here we are.

Good for the Red Sox. And very, very disappointing for the Yankees.

“Two big innings by [Matt Barnes] and then Robby Scott who throws a quality inning,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday night after a 5-4 walk-off win at Fenway Park, where Chapman walked in the winning run. “And both guys have [scuffled a little] the last few times on that last road trip. So to be able to put up zeros, three zeroes, that was the difference in this one.”

Boston’s strength has been New York’s pitfall, and may perhaps be its downfall in the division race. The Yankees’ relief corps has Aaron Judge’s group of mashers sliding in the American League East. The deficit is 4 1/2 games.

What’s Aroldis Chapman doing walking in Andrew Benintendi with the winning run? What’s he doing with a 4.35 ERA?

It was not long ago that Craig Kimbrel and Chapman were comparable elites. Now, a Red Sox bullpen with upstarts like Scott — who had a rough end to the first half but rebounded in his first chance after the break — is making a back-end duo of Dellin Betances and Chapman look second-rate.

From the start of June, the Red Sox have had the best bullpen ERA in the majors. The Yankees are in the middle of the pack, 14th, at 4.30. 

“Look at the way Matty’s been throwing the ball pretty much all year. Not just Matty and I, the whole pitching staff,” Scott said. “Bullpen’s been throwing the heck out of the ball.”

Betances rebounded on Friday night to strike out the side in the eighth inning. The Yanks’ normally dominant righty has a respectable 3.07 ERA, but he arrived at the All-Star Game with five runs and eight walks allowed in three July innings.

Things were rough for the lefty Scott to end the first half too. Pitching in his first full big-league season, he gave up seven runs in his final 4 2/3 innings.

Then he went to the tape.

“Yeah I mean just kind of started, just kind of going back and looking at some video from the beginning of the year and going back and looking at when things are going well,” Scott said. “There was a couple little things but nothing major. … Everything that we’ve kind of worked on his having the same delivery from pitch to pitch.

“Just keeping my hands a little bit lower as I’m coming up. Just kind of getting back to what I was comfortable doing. It just helps with the separation, keeping everything [in time]. I was kind of raising my hands a little bit higher during that stretch for whatever reason. If we knew the reason we would never do it type thing. Just kind of staying compact, and you know, working with everything.”

Scott in the ninth inning Friday got a ground out (Didi Gregorious), a strike out (Garrett Scott} and a foul pop up (Jacoby Ellsbury), keeping the score 4-3 and setting up the Sox’ two-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

A ball didn’t leave the infield in the bottom of the ninth, and Chapman wasn’t helped by his defense. But where Scott was before the break, Chapman might be now. He's allowed five earned runs in his last four innings pitched.

“Actually, that’s a good question,” Chapman told reporters, including NJ.com's Brendan Kuty, about his lack of swings and misses. “I’m going to go back and try to see footage and see why because I honestly don’t know.”

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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