Red Sox

Sox notes: Francona shuffles starters

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Sox notes: Francona shuffles starters

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Because of the 13-inning game that took almost eight hours to complete over Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is shuffling his starting rotation.

Tim Wakefield started Friday against the Twins on what would have been Daisuke Matsuzaka's regular day, Clay Buchholz starts Saturday, with Matsuzaka starting Sunday, and Josh Beckett pitching the finale of the four-game set. Jon Lester and John Lackey will start the two games in Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The Sox have an off-day on May 12, their first since April 25. The rotation tweaking allows Francona to give his starters some rest before then.

"We have a chance to maybe give Lester an extra day or two and also align the rotation going forward. So it kind of kills all the birds with one stone," Francona said. "It was just a chance to give us a couple of days."

Lester's last start was May 3, giving him two extra days of rest.

"Not really that he needs a break. I think it's good for him," Francona said. "I think we do try to listen to him and talk to him and find out how we can help or when we can help because I think sometimes we think we're helping and we get in the way. We don't want to do that. When we talked to him about this I think he was on board with it so it seems like it makes sense."

Matsuzaka's regular day would have been Friday. But after pitching an inning of relief in the marathon game, and taking the loss, Francona decided to push him back. Matsuzaka left after facing one batter in the fifth inning of his last start, on April 29, said he expects to be 100 percent by Sunday.

"My elbow is getting better, gradually getting better," he said through a team interpreter. "So, as the game is scheduled, I will be ready for the game."

Matsuzaka was not surprised that he was pressed into duty on Thursday morning. He said he expected at some point in his career he would have to make a relief appearance. But it was a somewhat difficult experience for him.

"It's actually difficult to get ready as a relief pitcher, and I knew that they wouldn't have enough time, I wouldn't have enough time to get ready," he said. "So that was difficult. But all I did was just try to get focused on getting ready and throw just like regular outings.

"At the same time," he said through another team interpreter, "just because there was no extra room to think about it which is why he could at least a little bit focus to do things he needed to do to get ready for the game."

The Sox lost their fourth straight game, falling to 3-6 over the first
eight games of the 11-game homestand. In their three losses, they have been
outscored 34-7.

Boston pitchers balked in two runs in the game. The Sox had not balked twice in a game since Casey Fossum and Willie Banks did so on Oct. 2, 2001. It is the first time since 1949 they balked in two runs. It is the first time since 1992 any team has balked in two runs in a game.

Alfredo Aceves went 4 23 innings, his longest outing since going six innings on Sept. 20, 2008, against the Orioles while with the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 15 games. He is batting .359, 23-for-64 in that span. It is the longest current streak in the American League and longest by a Sox batter this season.

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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