Red Sox

Wakefield watches 'pen blow chance for 200, 9-4

191542.jpg

Wakefield watches 'pen blow chance for 200, 9-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY The fifth time was far from the charm for Tim Wakefield and his trusty knuckleball in the pitchers personal quest for 200 career wins.

Wakefield was once again denied in his attempt to become the only active 200 game-winner in the big leagues despite carrying a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning, and instead helplessly watched a complete bullpen meltdown lead to a 9-4 drubbing at the hands of the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Wakefield was cruising into the sixth frame with six hits and only a single run allowed to Kansas City, but the Royals started punishing the 45-year-old twirler once he neared the 90-pitch range. After a Billy Butler strikeout to start the frame Eric Hosmer, Jeff Francouer and Mike Moustakas each tagged Wakefield for a hit and closed it to a one-run game with Wakefields milestone and a three-game Sox winning streak on the line.

Terry Francona pulled Wakefield from the game and instead called on a struggling Matt Albers, who imploded on the Kansas City mound after showing plenty of signs of struggle over the last few weeks. Albers recorded only one out and allowed four runs on three hits and a pair of walks while doing a fascinating impersonation of a batting practice pitcher as his ERA ballooned to 3.71 for the season.

Albers is sporting a bloated 11.25 ERA in seven appearances and eight innings pitched during the month of August, and appears in danger of falling out of favor in the Sox bullpen.

The big blow was an Alex Gordon double to left-center field that ripped things open for the Royals, and it was much too late by the time Franklin Morales entered the game for the Sox.

The disastrous eight-run sixth inning tied for their worst of the season wiped out solid offensive performances from the bottom third of the lineup and the first two-hit game and Major League RBI for rookie Ryan Lavarnway.

Player of the Game: Alex Gordon has been a thorn in Bostons side all season, and that continued on Saturday night with a game-high three hits, two doubles and 2 RBI during the great Wakefieldbullpen implosion of 2011. Not only is Gordon really breaking through to another level of baseball stardom in Kansas City, but hes turned into a certified Red Sox killer while hitting .360 (31-for-86) with 15 extra base hits and 15 RBI and an OPS over 1.000 in 24 career games against Boston.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Lavarnway picked up a couple of hits and his first Major League RBI in defeat, and has displayed some pretty mature approaches at the plate over the last couple of games. It appears that the designated hittercatcherright-handed bat is going to be able to help out the Sox while they wait for some of their injured players to return to the fold.

The Goat: Matt Albers walked one of the most wildly free-swinging hitters in the Major Leagues, Salvador Perez, upon entering a jam in the sixth inning while protecting a one-run lead, and he threw gasoline on the fire from there. Albers finished with four runs and three hits allowed in 13 of an inning and took the loss in one of Bostons worst innings this season. Albers has an 11.25 ERA in seven games during the month of August, and it might be time for Sox manager Terry Francona to give Dan Wheeler a look in that bullpen role directly behind Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.

Turning Point: Tim Wakefield had the game well in hand with a 4-1 lead heading into the sixth inning and got one out very quickly, but he couldnt get through the sixth to protect his 200th career win. Once the Royals put up two quick runs on Wakefield and dug into the Sox bullpen, the game was essentially over and Wakefields search for 200 career wins reached at least six games.

By the Numbers: 10 the number of scoreless games in a row that Dan Wheeler has tossed for the Red Sox while pitching his best baseball of the season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: Im not frustrated. It hasnt happened in the last five starts. Im trying to treat it like its a normal start, and Im just trying to give us quality innings and quality starts. I had a bad sixth inning. Tim Wakefield, who appeared the picture of frustration after his chances for his 200th career win fell apart in the sixth inning.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

mlb_rob_manfred_081414.jpg

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

cy_young_corey_kluber_chris_sale_111517.jpg

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE