Chris Sale

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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Red Sox add coaches, pick up Sale and Kimbrel options

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Red Sox add coaches, pick up Sale and Kimbrel options

The day after the conclusion of the World Series was a busy one for the Red Sox, including the announcement of some of new manager Alex Cora's coaching staff and picking up the contract options on Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel.

Former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will be Cora's bench coach, former Double-A Portland manager Carlos Febles will be third-base coach and Tom Goodwin will be first-base coach. Dana LeVangie remains bullpen coach. The hitting and pitching coach vacancies remain to be filled.

Roenicke was 342-331 and led Milwaukee to the National League Central title in 2011 as Brewers manager from 2011-15. Goodwin, a former outfielder, had been the Mets first-base coach since 2011. Febles, a former infielder, has been a Sox minor league manager and coach since 2007.

The 2018 options for lefty ace Sale ($12.5 million) and closer Kimbrel ($13 million) were picked up, while the Sox parted ways with lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. and infielder Josh Rutledge when they were outrighted from the 40-man roster and chose to become free agents. Joining them as free agents from the 2017 Sox are lefty reliever Fernando Abad, righty relievers Blaine Boyer and Addison Reed, outfielders Rajai Davis and Chris Young, righty starter Doug Fister, first baseman Mitch Moreland and infielder Eduardo Nunez. 

Minor league outfielder Bryce Brentz and lefty reliever Williams Jerez were added to the major league roster. Brentz, 28, hit 31 homers and had 85 RBI at Triple-A Pawtucket and Jerez, 25 had a 3.27 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings, primarily with Portland.  

Also, infielder Marco Hernandez, right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg and knuckleballer Steven Wright were activated off the 60-day disabled list.

Red Sox season ends as Astros rally for 5-4, Game 4 win

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Red Sox season ends as Astros rally for 5-4, Game 4 win

BOSTON -- Red Sox resiliency has its limits, even in a fantastic playoff game. 

Because in the end, the Astros offense proved just too much for the Sox, even for Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel -- arguably the very best starter and closer in the American League.

So close to forcing a Game 5, the Sox season ended in the American League Division Series for a second straight year Monday when the Astros won the best-of-five series with a 5-4 comeback win at Fenway Park.

The Game 4 loss was a gut-punch blow to the two best arms the Red Sox have. Sale threw four shutout innings, just like David Price, and took the Red Sox into the eighth with a 3-2 lead. Unlike Price, Sale was asked to go out for a fifth inning of work, and gave up a game-tying home run to Alex Bregman. The Sox had led 3-2 since the bottom of the fifth inning.

Kimbrel came on for the top of the order, relieving Sale with two down and one on. But his control wasn’t there -- he’s had those flare-ups before -- and a battle with Josh Reddick ended with an opposite-field single for the former Red Sox outfielder. It scored Cameron Maybin from second base with the go-ahead run.

An insurance run off Kimbrel in the ninth inning proved huge because Rafael Devers led off the frame against Astros closer Ken Giles with an inside-the-park-home run, a Fenway Park classic that eluded the reach of George Springer.

Here are five quick thoughts from a long and riveting day of baseball, the final one of the season in Boston . . . 

BAD TIMING

Craig Kimbrel failed in a major way Monday, and picked the worst time of the year to do so.

He’s been on the Red Sox for two seasons, and hadn’t thrown a meaningful pitch in the playoffs once before Game 4. The usage issue isn’t his fault -- the Sox had no leads to protect last year, and the first three games of this year’s ALDS weren’t close.

But Kimbrel was charged with keeping the game tied at 3-3 with two out, a runner on first, and the top of the Astros order due up in the eighth inning. His arrival seemed to portend a dramatic ending to a dramatic day: Before the rain, or right as it arrives, a Red Sox walk-off in the ninth.

Instead, Kimbrel had no control, even as his velocity jumped to 101 mph. He wild-pitched Maybin to second and then walked George Springer. The next hitter, Reddick, hit a go-ahead single the other way.

Kimbrel was no better in the ninth, allowing the Astros to add an insurance run on a Carlos Beltran knock off the Green Monster. Kimbrel’s 38 pitches in that last inning-and-a-third were a career high.

Per Baseball-Reference.com, Kimbrel had not allowed a go-ahead hit all season prior to Monday.

THE RIGHT MOVE?

Sale was awesome for four innings, but was it time for Addison Reed at the start of the eighth -- or even Kimbrel?

The rain never came, or it least it never came hard enough to stop play, and reliever Sale matched reliever David Price for a time, going four shutout innings in relief. At that point, Per Baseball-Reference.com, the Sox were the first team since the 1984 Padres to have two shutout relief appearances of at least four innings in one series.

But Sale’s outing didn’t end in a shutout. The Red Sox -- manager John Farrell was ejected but was presumably still involved in the game -- left him in for 77 pitches. On pitch No. 69, he allowed a leadoff home run to Bregman that tied the game.

The inning turned into the Red Sox’ nightmare from there. Reed was on the roster for a reason, and Sale, on short rest, had already delivered a ton. Kimbrel didn’t wind up pitching well, but asking him for six outs wouldn’t have been crazy if the Sox didn’t want to see Reed.

B'S ARE BACK

Two of the Killer B’s emerged Monday, if a bit too late.

Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts were a combined 2-for-26 coming into Game 4, key hitters for the Red Sox doing nothing at the plate.

But Bogaerts, moved in the lineup into the two-hole Monday, homered in his first at-bat, tying the game at 1-1. Four innings later came a home run from Benintendi, putting Boston ahead 3-2. The “Just-in, Just-in” chants rained down on Justin Verlander, the presumed Game 5 starter for the Astros who was brought in to relieve starter Charlie Morton in Game 4’s fifth inning.

Just like the first reliever Astros manager A.J. Hinch turned to in Game 3, Francisco Liriano, Verlander allowed a go-ahead homer to the Sox. 

The Astros led 2-1 when Verlander came on, with Bogaerts on first base and one out. This time it was Benintendi, instead of Devers (as it had been on Sunday), who socked a 2-and-2 breaking ball on the inner half out to the right-field corner, a little smile on his face as he watched the ball sail and started into his trot.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG?

If this series proves to be John Farrell’s last as manager, he didn’t go out quietly.

Farrell was ejected in just the second inning Monday, after Dustin Pedroia was the second straight Red Sox hitter to be caught looking at a called third strike from Morton with the bases loaded. Farrell appeared to save Pedroia from getting run after Pedroia exploded on home-plate umpire Mark Wegner, disagreeing with a curveball called for strike three that Pedroia felt was inside. 

Wegner could have run Pedroia, who should have been able to keep his cool better. But Farrell’s intervention job to keep Pedroia from getting tossed was reasonable, too. 

RUNNING ON EMPTY . . . AGAIN

One way or another, you knew you’d be talking about the Red Sox’ base running at some point this series. And the conversation isn’t a happy one for Sox fans when it comes to the third inning Monday, when the Sox made not one but two outs on the bases.

For the first, Benintendi was caught off first base for a double play. Mookie Betts hit a screaming liner to Bregman at third base, who threw across the diamond and doubled up Benintendi, who had reached with a leadoff single.

Betts’ ball was hit so hard that you can at least understand what happened to Benintendi. But getting doubled off hurt more when the next batter, Mitch Moreland, lined a double to right field -- a hit that likely would have scored Benintendi as the tying run for the Sox, who trailed 2-1 at the time. 

The Sox kept hitting, though. Hanley Ramirez came through with a two-out single to left. Instead of holding Moreland at third, though, third-base coach Brian Butterfield waved Moreland home, where he was thrown out easily by left fielder Marwin Gonzalez. Devers was on deck. 

BONUS THOUGHT

Rick Porcello didn’t exactly change the narrative around Red Sox starting pitching, laboring through three innings with 70 pitches. Strikeouts are what helped him get out of some really messy jams with some impressive high fastballs and cutters/sliders, allowing just two runs. Known as a sinker baller, Porcello’s always worked up in the zone, too, and seemed to be at his best doing that Monday. 

But the first batter of the game, Springer, doubled, and moved to third base on a wild pitch. The second batter, Reddick, reached too on a walk. But the Astros only got one run in the inning, despite four men reaching base. A lead is a lead, but the hole for the Sox wasn’t as big as normal.

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