Posts Tagged ‘Alfredo Aceves’

We thank the baseball community for its support during this somber and difficult time.  On Tuesday, “Sweet Caroline” serenaded baseball fans throughout the country as teams played it during their games in solidarity.  We appreciate the salute.

We got off to a great start.  Ellsbury, the game’s first batter, singled in the game’s first at-bat.  Then Victorino got hit, and Pedroia singled to load the bases.  So, to review, we had the bases loaded with nobody out in the first inning.  The first third of our lineup successfully got on base.  Then Napoli stepped up to the plate and singled in two runs.  And Nava stepped up to the plate and singled in one more.  Unfortunately, we followed that epically solid rally with three straight outs.  But we had three runs on the board before the Tribe even took the field, and things looked good when they went down in order in the bottom of the frame.

Neither team scored until the fifth, when we were back at it.  Middlebrooks and Salty provided two quick outs, but Drew walked on five pitches and scored on a triple by Carp.  We added yet another run in the following frame.  Victorino led off with a single.  Pedroia struck out, Napoli doubled, and Nava singled in Victorino.

Until that point, Aceves was doing extremely well.  He had just pitched five shutout innings.  But he imploded in the sixth.  He allowed a walk and two consecutive home runs for a grand total of three runs.  If we hadn’t added on those two insurance runs, Aceves’s complete and total fail would have tied the game.  Aceves didn’t even record a single out that inning.  It was absolutely awful.  In the blink of an eye, he lost all command and control, and he just couldn’t find the strike zone at all.  Fortunately, John made the switch to Tazawa just in time; Tazawa sent down the Indians in order after that.  Just in time indeed.

In the end, the game finished similarly to how it began.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the eighth, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a fantastic combination of a sac bunt by Victorino and a throwing error.

Uehara pitched a great eighth, Bailey pitched a great ninth, and we won, 6-3!

In other news, the Bruins beat the Sabres, 2-1.

AP Photo

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Well, that wasn’t great either.  I seriously did not think that we would end up losing our first series at home, and to Baltimore no less.  Actually, we ended up losing our first series of the season.  I suppose it would have happened eventually.  But it’s always nice to clean up when you’re first at home.

Aceves was tapped to make the start today.  And he actually turned in a quality outing.  Seriously, it was quite good.  He pitched five innings and gave up two runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four.  He gave up a solo shot with one out in the second.  And he gave up a single, a groundout that moved the runner to third, and an RBI single in the fifth that tied the game at two.  In addition to the home run, Aceves gave up two doubles, so half of the hits he gave up were for extra bases, and half were singles.  All in all, not too shabby.

Mortensen pitched a one-two-three sixth and recorded the first two outs of the seventh before allowing a single.  He was then replaced by Miller, who issued a walk and was replaced by Uehara, who allowed the winning run thanks to a double.  Tazawa came on for the eighth and got through it just fine.  And Alex Wilson pitched the ninth.

Meanwhile, our hitters were busy making sure that we’d lose the series.  Ellsbury led off the first with a single, but we then went down in order.  We went down one-two-three in the second.  And we finally got on the board in the third.

Drew, fresh off the DL, walked on five pitches.  Bradley and Ellsbury provided two quick outs, but then Victorino, Pedroia, and Napoli combined for back-to-back-to-back singles, the latter two of the three plating our only two runs of the game.  Unfortunately, Middlebrooks killed the rally by grounding out.

Drew walked in the fourth, but to no avail.  We went down one-two-three in the fifth.  We had two on base thanks to two singles in the sixth, but it amounted to nothing.  Victorino singled in the seventh, but it also amounted to nothing.  We went down one-two-three yet again in the eighth, and despite Drew’s single, we ended up losing, 3-2.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Isles, 2-1.

USA Today Staff/David Butler II

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I was excited for Lackey’s first outing of the regular season.  Lackey lost a ton of weight and looked great this spring.  I think that I had reasons to believe that this season was going to be different for him, and we would see the John Lackey that we were supposed to have been seeing all along since we signed him.

In fact, his start was alright.  He pitched a lot better during this start than he had during many of his other starts stretching back a number of years.  I’d say that yesterday’s performance gave us a lot to look forward to, minus one extremely conspicuous downside.

Lackey gave up two runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out eight.  He opened the fourth by inducing a lineout but then gave up a single followed by a home run on a cutter.  That was basically his only mistake of the game.  He was pretty alright for the rest of it.  Those eight strikeouts were a pleasure to watch; I can’t remember the last time he paired low runs with high K’s.  His first K of the season was called on a cutter, and his second ended with a swing through a nasty slider in the first.  He had a one-two-three second ending in consecutive K’s, the first called on a fastball and the second swung on a curveball.  He opened the third with a three-pitch swinging strikeout that ended with a fastball and ended it with a swinging strikeout that ended with a curveball.  He ended the fourth with a three-pitch strikeout  culminating in a nice fastball.  And he opened the fifth with a three-pitch called strikeout ending with another fastball.

A grand total of six pitches made their appearance yesterday; his curveball, cutter, and four-seam were definitely the highlights.  He threw a handful of impeccable sliders and barely any changeups that were decent at best.  And his two-seam was just okay.  He threw twenty-one pitches in the first and only improved from there, throwing thirteen in the second, eighteen in the third, fifteen in the fourth, and three in the fifth.

That brings us to the bad news.  Lackey only pitched four and one-third inning.  He threw a grand total of seventy-six pitches and had to be taken out due to a right biceps strain.  The intensity of the strain will be determined as the appropriate medical procedures are undergone.  Obviously we’re all rooting for it to be benign not only because he actually looked great out there but also because we can’t afford to lose one of our starters this early in the year.

Getting back to the game, Lackey was replaced by Aceves, who didn’t pitch well at all.  Lackey got saddled with the loss, but it was Aceves who gave up more runs in less innings when his job as a reliever is to limit the damage.  He pitched the remainder of the game and gave up three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five.  Two walks and one out into the sixth, Aceves threw a big mistake of a fastball, which was hit for a home run, and that was that.

If you ask me, the loss should be shared between Aceves and the offense, which did almost nothing yesterday.  I mean that literally.  We mustered two hits: Ellsbury doubled on the sixth pitch of the game, and Pedroia singled on the penultimate pitch of the game.  Victorino walked twice, and Ciriaco walked once.  That was the extent of our men on base.  Ellsbury did pick up a steal in the first.  And Ciriaco managed to make it all the way to third in the  third, thanks to a wild pitch combined with a throwing error.  But when Ellsbury reached on a fielder’s choice out, Ciriaco was thrown out at the plate.  Ellsbury picked up another steal before Victorino walked, but Pedroia ended the inning with a popout.  In six of nine innings, we went down in order.  We sent five up in the third, our best chance to score.  In the first and ninth, we sent up four.

The Jays didn’t even have to play the bottom of the ninth.  We lost, five-zip.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1.

AP Photo

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On day three of the regular season, we picked up right where we left off.  I know it’s only been two games, but what a great start we’re off to! And against the Yankees in New York, no less! There’s definitely something palpably different about this time.  You can feel it and see it when the game starts.  It’s so nice to remember what it feels like to look forward to something.

Buchholz was on the mound and delivered everything he had.  It was a truly masterful start, in some ways even better than Lester’s.  Buchholz pitched a full seven innings and gave up one run on six hits while walking two and striking out four.  The one run was the result of a solo shot hit in the third on the first pitch of the at-bat, obviously a big mistake of a ninety-two mile-per-hour fastball.  Fortunately, that was Buchholz’s only major mistake.

Other than that, it was mostly smooth sailing.  Three of his seven innings were one-two-three; all but one of the others saw four batters come up.  He faced five in the seventh.  And he rolled out the full extent of his arsenal.  Both fastballs made an appearance, his fastest reaching ninety-four miles per hour.  Naturally, he included plenty of off-speeds: changeups, curveballs, cutters, and splitters.  His splitter and four-seam, the favorite pitch of the night, were particularly effective.  As far as inning pitch counts are concerned, he ranged from only seven in the second to twenty in the seventh and everything in between for a grand total of ninety-four.

Unfortunately, the relief corps was not as solid.  Miller and Aceves combined to pitch the eighth but gave up three runs.  Aceves inherited a runner and put one of his own on base before allowing a home run.  Hanrahan then pitched the ninth and picked up his first save of the season and of his time with us.

The offense was getting pretty busy in the meantime.  Yesterday’s lineup had Ellsbury leading off, Nava batting second, Pedroia batting third, Napoli batting cleanup, Salty batting fifth, Middlebrooks sixth, Victorino seventh, Bradley eighth, and Iglesias ninth.  Some changes, some constants.

Of the nine innings we played, we scored in four.  In the first, Salty singled with two out and two on to bring our first run in.  A single, a hit batsman, and a walk on four pitches by Ellsbury loaded the bases with one out in the second; when Nava got it, Bradley scored.  Salty singled in the third, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Victorino, who stole second base and scored on a single by Bradley, who moved to third on a double by Iglesias.  Both of them scored on a single by Ellsbury to complete a four-run third.  We went down in order in the fourth and fifth and scored our final run in the sixth; Iglesias led it off with a single and was out in a force out by Ellsbury, who moved to third on a double by Nava and scored on a groundout by Pedroia.

Just to give you an idea of how monumental this 7-4 win was, consider the fact that we haven’t opened any season since 1999 with back-to-back wins.  We are officially on our way!

In other news, the Bruins beat the Sens, 4-3.

AP Photo

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It’s the middle of March.  The roster is thinning down, and the team’s performance is moving up.  As Opening Day nears, the pitchers especially are the players to watch.  Wins and losses means nothing in Spring Training, when regulars routinely don’t complete games, but a game is a game, and you can watch a pitcher’s motion and see how comfortable he is with certain pitches and certain situations.  Also pay attention to defense and injury in the field.  These things won’t necessarily predict our performance this year, but at least we’ll be able to tell how ready this year’s team is to face the music when the season starts.  Honestly, I have to say, it looks pretty good.

Nava is surely going to win a spot on the bench now that he’s proven himself at first, where he’s seen playing time this spring.  Drew has been out with a concussion that he sustained after getting hit by a pitch.  Papi started running the bases a bit but, due to soreness in his right foot derived from his Achilles injury, he’s had to take it easy as well.  While he’s sat out, Farrell’s been rotating the DH spot.  Unfortunately, he may very well start the season on the disabled list.  So will Breslow, due to problems with his left shoulder, and Morales, due to problems with his lower back.  Napoli actually saw action in consecutive days and managed to survive, which was a very good sign.  Aceves returned to camp after Team Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.  Fortunately, he wasn’t injured in the significant brawl that broke out between Team Mexico and Team Canada when the former got upset because the latter bunted with the game practically won already.  Team Mexico didn’t know about the Classic’s tiebreakers, which use run differential, and thought it was bad form.  So several Canadian players ganged up on Aceves and dragged him to the ground.  Like I said, we’re pretty lucky he wasn’t injured.  Victorino will also be heading back to camp now that Team USA is out.  Steven Wright, the knuckleballer who may not be, since he’s having some trouble getting a handle on the pitch, got cut along with Deven Marrero, Drake Britton, Justin Henry, Alex Hassan, Mark Hamilton, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Juan Carlos Linares, Pedro Beato, Rubby De La Rosa, Allen Webster, Christian Velazquez, Daniel Butler, and Alex Wilson.  Ryan Westmoreland, once considered one of our best farmboys, is retiring.  We traded cash to Baltimore for Mike Flacco, who plays first base.  Yes, he’s the brother of Joe Flacco.  Yaz made his annual visit to camp, making the rounds with current Sox and former teammates.

Now let’s talk action.  We beat the Rays on March 4, 5-1.  Doubront made his debut and tossed 1.2 shutout innings including a hit, two walks, and two K’s.  Carpenter also tossed a shutout frame to end the game.  Iglesias went two for two with two doubles; Salty also had a double to his credit, and Overbay tripled.  We were back in action Wednesday opposite the Pirates, who beat us, 9-3.  On the bright side, Lester looked especially sharp; he hurled four comforting and relief-inspiring innings, during which he allowed one hit on two runs while walking three and striking out three.  I wasn’t a fan of the three walks, but it’s more important that he slowly but steadily lengthens his starts without also augmenting his run total.  Wright took the loss and gave up five runs on five hits; Tazawa pitched a shutout inning to end it.  Ciriaco went two for four, and Gomes and Salty both doubled.  We beat the Twins on Thursday, 12-5.  For the first three innings, it was all Buchholz, who dominated with a shutout performance and issued two hits, no walks, and four K’s.  Hanrahan delivered a deflating fail of a third of an inning, during which he gave up four runs on four hits, but Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Meanwhile, Pedroia and Napoli each collected two hits; Pedroia doubled and Napoli smacked a home run that seemed like he could really get used to the power again.  The Twins bested us the next day, though, with a shutout performance.  Dempster took the loss and gave up the game’s only two runs.  We lost to the O’s on Saturday, 5-2.  Doubront gave up two runs on four hits over three innings with a walk and five strikeouts; Hanrahan and Bailey both delivered shutout frames.  Salty had himself two hits, and Overbay doubled.

We beat the Rays on Sunday, 6-2.  Lackey worked three and two-thirds inning and gave up two runs on four hits, one of them a homer, while walking two and striking out two.  It doesn’t seem like much, but that start was better than most of the ones we’ve seen from him in recent memory; granted, it doesn’t take much from him at this point to constitute a good sign, but you have to start rebuilding somewhere.  Overbay went two for three, and Ross had himself a three-run jack.  The Marlins beat us on Monday, 8-7; Lester delivered five beautiful innings, giving up one run on three hits while walking none and striking out four.  Carpenter took the blown save and the loss, giving up two runs on two hits en route to recording the game’s last two outs.  Salty doubled, and Middlebrooks homered for the first time since getting injured! He looked mighty comfortable doing it, too.  Like he could do it again.  Repeatedly.  We beat the Jays on Tuesday, 5-3.  Buchholz kept up his strong performance with four shutout innings during which he issued one K and gave up three hits.  Bailey turned in a shutout inning of his own.  Nava, Napoli, and Sweeney each had two hits; Napoli, Sweeney, and Middlebrooks each hit doubles.

We had Wednesday off and bested the Twins on Thursday, 7-3.  Dempster picked up the win with four innings of one-run, three-hit ball; Bard pitched a shutout inning.  Ellsbury went two for three with a double; Iglesias smacked a double as well.  Friday’s game against Baltimore ended in a tie at three after ten; Mortensen started and tossed three shutout innings of two-hit ball, and no one had a multihit game.  We crushed Tampa Bay on Saturday, 9-2.  Aceves pitched four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits with one walk and five K’s.  Iglesias and Gomez both had two hits; Iglesias tripled, and Gomez doubled.  We beat Tampa Bay again yesterday, 5-1, on the shoulders of a literally perfect performance by Lester.  Six innings.  No runs.  No hits.  No walks.  Six K’s, or an average of one per inning.  Even Hanrahan got in the spirit and delivered a shutout inning.  It was only Spring Training, but it was a glorious indication of things to come.  Expect him to start on Opening Day for sure.  Middlebrooks went two for three, and Gomes was perfect at the plate; both doubled.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps in sudden death but then beat the Leafs, Flyers, and Sens.  We lost to the Penguins and then beat the Panthers and Caps before losing to the Penguins again.

Boston Herald Staff/Christopher Evans

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