Middlebrooks leads Sox to 6-5 victory over Marlins, series sweep

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Middlebrooks leads Sox to 6-5 victory over Marlins, series sweep

BOSTON -- For the past month, Will Middlebrooks and Kevin Youkilis have essentially been sharing playing time. But Thursday night, Middlebrooks may have put an end to the job-share.
Middlebrooks delivered two of the first three Red Sox runs with RBI singles, then blasted a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, setting the stage for a dramatic Red Sox comeback win, 6-5, over the Miami Marlins.
Daniel Nava, who had four hits Wednesday night, added two more, the second of which scored Ryan Kalish from third base with the winning run. Kalish had shown great hustle immediately prior to Nava's at-bat, speeding from first to third on a groundout to the right side.
The win was the fifth in a row and gave the Red Sox their first sweep of a series three games or longer at Fenway since last July.
Alfredo Aceves notched the save, his 18th of the season.
The Sox had fallen behind quickly when starter Daisuke Matsuzaka had one of his typically rocky first innings, needing 33 pitches to escape after allowing three runs on three hits and a walk and three stolen bases.
Matsuzaka self-corrected after that, retiring 14 in a row before a solo homer by Giancarlo Stanton ended his night with one out in the sixth. The Marlins added another run off Andrew Miller that inning, setting the stage for Middlebrooks' heroics in the eighth.
The Sox chipped away at Miami's 3-0 edge when Middlebrooks singled home baserunners in the fourth and fifth. A sacrifice fly from Mike Aviles accounted for the other Red Sox run.
Scott Atchison got the win with two shutout innings of relief.

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."