Sox walk off with 3-2 win over Mariners

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Sox walk off with 3-2 win over Mariners

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Carl Crawford hasn't had many hits for the Red Sox. But he made his only on Sunday count.

Crawford drilled a single through a drawn-in infield, scoring Jed Lowrie from third and giving the Red Sox a 3-2 walkoff win over the Seattle Mariners.

Lowrie had reached when Ichiro Suzuki lost his liner to right in the sun for a triple.

The Sox had taken a two-run lead in the third on David Ortiz's double off The Wall, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.

Tim Wakefield pitched brilliantly over 5 23 innings, but lost a chance to record a win when Bobby Jenks faced five hitters and walked three while allowing a single.

The Sox overcame a strong start by Felix Hernandez who allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out 10.

STAR OF THE GAME - Carl Crawford

Given his first month with the Red Sox, Crawford was a highly unlikely hero Sunday.

Hitting just .155 entering Sunday's game, Crawford delivered a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth, scoring Jed Lowrie from third with two outs.

Crawford had just 15 hits all season before coming through with the game-winner off Seattle reliever Jamey Wright.

HONORABLE MENTION - Tim Wakefield.

Making his first start of 2011, Wakefield was superb through 5 23 innings, out-pitching Cy Young Award-winner Felix Hernandez.

Wakefield stepped in for an emergency start with Clay Buchholz sidelined with a stomach flu and allowed just three hits and a walk.

After 76 pitches, Wakefield was yanked after allowing a two-out single in sixth.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Bobby Jenks.

For the second time in the last three games, Jenks pitched poorly. Following a bad outing Friday in the series opener, Jenks reliever Tim Wakefield with one on, two out and the Red Sox leading
2-0.

By the time he got out of the inning, five Mariners had come to the plate and four had reached base (single, three walks), costing Wakefield a chance at the win.

TURNING POINT:

From the fourth through the eighth, the Red Sox had exactly one baserunner against Seattle pitching.

Then, two outs away from extra innings, Ichiro Suzuki couldn't see Jed Lowrie's sinking liner to right with two outs in the ninth, losing the ball in the strong late-afternoon sun as the ball nicked off his glove and went for a triple. After a groundout by Marco Scutaro, Crawford's single proved the game-winner.

BY THE NUMBERS:

The win was just the second one-run win of the 2011 season for the Red Sox. The only other came April 22 at Anaheim.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

"I really need their support right now and I appreciate it.'' -- Carl Crawford on his teammates, who bolted from the dugout and swarmed him after his game-winner.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

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.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.