The Yankees could miss the playoffs...

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The Yankees could miss the playoffs...

From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- Jon Lester gave the New York Yankees ample opportunity to break open the game, and they failed nearly every time.The Yankees couldn't capitalize on Lester's career-high seven walks and fell into a first-place tie atop the AL East when Jacoby Ellsbury hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning that lifted the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night."We had a ton of opportunities to score runs and we just didn't get the hits," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.The loss and Baltimore's win over Tampa Bay left the Yankees and Orioles tied for the division lead with 79-62 records. New York hasn't won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak Aug. 13-15, allowing the Orioles and Rays, who are just two games back, to make it a tight race with three weeks to go."We need to string together some wins," said Derek Jeter, whose ground-rule double with two on in the sixth put New York up 3-2. "You wouldn't be tied for first unless you found ways to win games throughout the course of 140-something games that we've played. So we've got to do it again."Jeter's double put him on second with just one out, but Boston reliever Junichi Tazawa came in and got out of the jam by striking out Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez."They've got a job to do, too. We didn't get anything else after that," Jeter said. "You'd like to think that you'd be able to get something going, but they made some pitches when they needed to."It was one of many moments when the Yankees didn't come through and Dustin Pedroia made them pay in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to tie it back up at 3.Andrew Bailey (1-0) got the win after allowing one hit in one inning.David Robertson (1-7) retired his first four batters before giving up Pedro Ciriaco's single to left field with one out in the ninth. Mike Aviles then singled into the shortstop hole where Jeter fielded the ball but couldn't make the throw.Then Ellsbury capped an outstanding performance on his 29th birthday with a sharp single to right. Ciriaco came all the way around from second and slid in to beat the throw from right fielder Ichiro Suzuki to give Boston its second win in 13 games.The Red Sox wasted a chance in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out and couldn't score. But they got outstanding work from their bullpen, which allowed just a hit and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2-3 innings.The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the top half on a two-run, ground-rule double by Jeter after a walk to Curtis Granderson, a single by Andruw Jones and a sacrifice by Jayson Nix.Lester had control trouble from the start, walking three in the first when the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Jeter led off with a walk, took third on a double by Nick Swisher and scored on a groundout by Robinson Cano. Russell Martin and Steve Pearce also walked but were stranded.Lester walked the first two batters in the third and the leadoff hitter in the fourth but retired the next three batters in each inning. Then he struck out the side in the fifth, giving him 1,045 career strikeouts, the most by a Red Sox lefty. Bruce Hurst had the old mark of 1,044."He knows how to pitch. We had a lot of opportunities to score some more runs. We just didn't get it done," Jeter said. "Even though he had a lot of walks, he pitched out of it and that's what good pitchers do."The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the third on a double by Ciriaco and RBI singles by Ellsbury and Pedroia.Ciriaco went 2 for 3 and is 17 for 35 in nine career games against the Yankees, all this season with the Red Sox.NOTES:Lester's previous career high was five walks on nine different occasions, most recently on July 22 in a 15-7 loss to Toronto in which he allowed 11 runs. ... Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte is scheduled to throw in a simulated game Wednesday. He's trying to work his way back into the rotation after breaking his ankle June 28. Pettitte hopes to throw about 60 pitches. ... Injured 1B Mark Teixeira also was with the club even though he is sidelined for up to two weeks with a strained left calf, an injury he aggravated Saturday. "I think we can get plenty of work done here. There's really not that much I can do anyway. It's a lot of ice and a lot of ultrasound and stuff like that," Teixeira said. ... Swisher snapped an 0-for-28 slump with his double in the first. ... David Phelps (3-4) pitches for the Yankees against Aaron Cook (3-9) in the second game of the three-game series on Wednesday night. ... Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda issued no walks and has just 14 in his last 15 starts.

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.