Red Sox happy with recent home success

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Red Sox happy with recent home success

BOSTON It was the kind of win the Red Sox needed. Contributions from all parts offense, defense, starting pitching, and the bullpen.

Perhaps it was enough to fend off the naysayers. For the time being.

Its very encouraging, said manager Bobby Valentine, who celebrated his 62 birthday with a 12-1 win over the Indians at Fenway Park.

Especially at home because there was some question after game one of the four-game series that wed never play well at home again, and that there was a mental state that we couldnt break through, and la-de-da-de-da-de-da.

When you see the guys in the clubhouse thats a good thing for me. Its good. And I think we had a good thing most of the year, its just frustrating because wed get so close and it would slip away. And now were just banging the door down. Were not letting the door shut the last couple of games. Its really been good.

While Daniel Bard was not at his sharpest, it was enough to hold the Indians at bay. The four-run lead his offense handed him in the first inning certainly helped. Bards outing, along with Clay Buchholz on Friday and Felix Doubronts on Saturday, gives the Sox a streak of three straight quality starts for the first time this season.

The bullpen once again came through, with three scoreless innings, one each from Rich Hill, Matt Albers, and Scott Atchison.

The 11-run margin of victory was the Sox largest of the season, and largest since an 18-6 win over the Blue Jays on Sept. 13. The Sox have scored 10 or more runs nine times this season, the most ever in the teams first 34 games of a season.

The offense batted around twice, in the four-run first and in the six-run seventh. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led the offense going 3-for-4 with a season-high five RBI, the second most of his career, and a his fifth home run of the season.

It starts with pitching, said Saltalamacchia. Pitching and defense wins games. So last three starts have been great. These guys have been going after the guy, really commanding the plate, commanding the zone, kind of setting the tone for us and then with our offense were going to be able to put some runs on the board. And a day like today where Bardo battled and just going after these guys and didn't give in, that was what picked everyone up.

Rookies Daniel Nava and Will Middlebrooks combined to go 4-for-5 with six runs scored, five RBI, a home run, two doubles, a walk, and Nava twice getting hit by a pitch.

Its awesome. It really is, Saltalamacchia said. Thats whats going to happen throughout the year. You get guys that are injured, guys that get called up and step in like theyve done. Its not easy to come to Boston and step in like they've done and do a great job.

Perhaps a game like this will make it easier to play, at least for the final two games on the six-game homestand.

Youve just got to take it all in, Saltalamacchia said. Its the best place in the world to play and obviously if were not playing well, they're going to let us know and thats part of the game. But a day like today, we put some runs on the board, but it was awesome.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.