Red Sox

Strong outing, but no win for Buchholz

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Strong outing, but no win for Buchholz

BOSTON -- Through the first month of the season, Clay Buchholz proclaimed himself the only pitcher in Major League Baseball who was complaining about wins.

He went 3-1 in five starts in April, but had an ERA of 8.69, and hadn't allowed less than five runs in any of those outings. But he was getting enough offensive support to get him wins.

In his last two starts against the rival Tampa Bay Rays, it's been the opposite. Buchholz has been at his best, but in those two starts, he's 0-1.

Alfredo Aceves blew it for him on Sunday at Fenway Park. Buchholz finished the game having allowed just two runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out a season-best six batters.

When Buchholz left the mound after the top of the seventh, the Red Sox trailed 2-0. But thanks to Adrian Gonzalez' heroic three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, Buchholz was lined up for his team-leading fifth win of the season.

But Aceves blew it in the ninth, allowing a two-run home run to Sean Rodriguez that put the Rays ahead 4-3, which ended up being the final score, giving Buchholz a no-decision.

"Clay had a really good changeup, his fastball was explosive, I was very encouraged," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "He looked good. He looked good, and then gave up that second run. He was still throwing pretty good, I guess.

"I thought we were going to pull that one out and get him one he deserved. I thought he deserved a win today."

Buchholz was also disappointed that he hasn't got the results in his last two starts against the Rays, both this weekend and last week, when he allowed two runs in five innings while walking one and striking out five at the Trop.

"Nobody likes losing, but I was always told that you've got to be able to accept it sometimes," said Buchholz afterwards. "It's a tough loss there."

Buchholz was, however, encouraged with his changeup on Sunday. It's always been a strikeout pitch for him, and after searching for it for weeks, he feels he's finally made the proper progression with the pitch that allows him to confidently throw it in any count.

"I've been able to start trusting it again, and throwing it like I have in the past," said Buchholz.

"It's the pitch that always has been a strikeout pitch for me my whole career, in the minor leagues, up here," he added. "It's a pitch that I can throw behind in a count when it's good, and I can also throw it when I'm ahead in the count."

His catcher agreed.

"He went after guys, threw strikes, was able to throw strikes with his changeup, was able to get ahead with the fastball as well," said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "But his changeup is so good that its tough to sit back and wait on it when hes throwing that fastball as hard as he does. So he did a great job, a great job all around."

Result aside, if you noticed anything else different with Buchholz on Sunday, it was the speed he was working at. Buchholz said that he made it a point to work quicker on Sunday, and that it was an area that came up before his previous start in Baltimore.

"I tried doing it in Baltimore," said Buchholz. "Just to get back on the mound, regardless of what pitch I just threw and the result of that pitch. And to keep my infielders on their toes, because I know, I've played the position before, and it's tough when you've got a guy out there taking forever to throw each pitch."

It seemed like it worked, and Buchholz put together another solid outing against the Rays. He just didn't get the end result he deserved.

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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