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Posts Tagged ‘Alfredo Aceves’

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.

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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.

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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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Now that Spring Training is thoroughly underway, it’s high time for a status report.

Pitchers and catchers had physicals on February 11 and their first official team workout the following day.  Naturally, Buchholz just had to strain his right hamstring about ten minutes into the first pitchers’ fielding practice of the spring, but it turned out to be minor and he was back out there that Wednesday and had proceeded to long toss by that Friday and a forty-five-pitch side session that Monday.  Lackey lost a whopping seventeen pounds and is looking lean.  Don’t expect to see fireworks right away from Breslow or Doubront, who have been assigned to a more cautious training program.  Tim Wakefield was back at camp basically tutoring Steven Wright, the knuckleball’s next generation, and as we knew they would be, Pedro Martinez and Tek are also using their veteran skill to help out.  Mike Lowell is another surprise veteran guest.  And for some bizarre reason, when Aceves started throwing live batting practice, he insisted on lobbing the ball; I don’t really know what that was about.  Needless to say, he cleaned up his act.  Nieves and Farrell didn’t seem to know what was going on either, but Farrell sure was annoyed; as were we all.

The rest of the team reported on February 14.  Look for Victorino and Ellsbury to get a lot of practice in this spring.  Fenway’s right field is probably the most formidable in all of baseball, so it’ll be good for the two of them to nail down a routine.  Also look for Farrell to exercise considerable caution with Napoli, who started defensive drills at first on February 17; his hip MRI had come back clean, so he was given the green light.  Papi is not baserunning or conditioning with the team; he’s on his own specific running program that will slowly but steadily increase in intensity.  Middlebrooks’s broken wrist is officially history, as is Drew’s fractured ankle.  We acquired Mike Carp from Seattle for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.

We played our first exhibition on January 21; it was a double-header, first against Northeastern and then against Boston College, and we won, 3-0 and 11-1.  Only the relievers pitched; each got one inning, and Hanrahan debuted, successfully getting around two baserunners.  The regulars batted in the first game, while the minor leaguers got a turn in the second.

Grapefruit League play officially began on Saturday against the Rays.  We lost by one, and Lackey pitched only one inning, giving up a walk, a hit, a strikeout, and a run, but he looked pretty comfortable.  We played the Cards next, winning by two; Lester pitched two solid innings, Nava and Gomez both had multi-hit games, and Ciriaco batted in two runs.  Then we had a double-header with the Rays and Jays, splitting the day.  Aceves gave up two runs, two hits, and two walks over two innings, but Bard issued a walk and a strikeout in his scoreless inning, and Pedroia hit a solo shot.  The staff issued a solid performance in the afternoon, with a good amount of the offensive support not coming from the regulars.  Our following game against the Cards ended in the worst way: with a 15-4 loss.  Dempster pitched two solid innings, but the same can not be said of the remainder of the staff; Mortensen took the loss.  Ciriaco went two for two, and Iglesias hit a double.  We lost to Baltimore by two after that; Morales pitched his inning well, Hanrahan struck out two but walked one and allowed a run, and Tazawa was awarded a blown save as well as the loss.  Gomes hit a solo shot, and Ciriaco had himself another two hits, including a triple.  Middlebrooks had to leave the game with soreness in his wrist, but it turned out to be nothing, and he feels fine and returned.  Thank goodness, because I don’t know what we’d do if he were down for the count.  We’re not exactly deep at the corner there.  For his part, Gomes got personal with a wall and had to get stitches in his left knee as a result; this game really was not good to us.

On Thursday against the Bucs, Lackey upped the ante with two innings of work.  He gave up three runs with a walk, a strikeout, and a homer, but it seems like the more he goes out there, the more comfortable he seems.  And there’s no question about the fact that he’s throwing the ball well.  It was a 16-6 win, so the offense was also a highlight; the regulars were pretty quiet, and there were no extra-base hits, but we made a strong showing nonetheless.  It’s nice to know that the next generation can play some strong small ball.  Lester took a turn on Friday, pitching three innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles.  Pedroia went two for two and Drew hit a double en route to the win.  We eked out a victory against the Twins next; during 1.1 innings, Buchholz walked two, struck out two, and gave up one hit.  Aceves was awarded both a blown save and a win, and Sweeney went two for four.

Last but not least, we played the Evil Empire yesterday, losing, 5-2.  But hey, it’s Spring Training; the final score is never as important as the baseball being played.  Dempster pitched three one-hit innings with two strikeouts; Hanrahan blew his save and took the loss.  No one had a multi-hit game, but Salty doubled and Napoli hit a solo shot, which was quite the sight to see.  He cleared the sign in right center field 420 feet away.  It was huge.  I saw that, and it was so nice to really observe the reason why he’s here.

Bard will throw twenty or so pitches in a simulated game on Monday.  Papi has been running the bases a little bit but has felt sore.  Finally, Lucchino thinks our sellout streak will end soon; he cites April 10 as a possible end date.  I know there’s always a debate surrounding what the sellout streak has meant and whether it really means anything at all, but for a franchise like this with a fan base like ours, such a streak really shouldn’t be ending anytime soon.  That’s all I have to say about it.  And I’ll end with the beginning: Farrell’s opening address on February 15.  This was basically his opportunity to introduce himself and his philosophy to the team.  Even though many on the team know him and are familiar with the way he works, the gesture shows humility, collaboration, and the kind of professionalism that he urged members of the team to adopt.  The great thing is that, in many ways, Farrell is a product and holdover from the Francona era, but he’s still a fresh perspective, much-needed indeed after the debacle that was last season.  Farrell was compelling and inspiring.  He’s the man we should have had at the helm all along.  It just feels right, and it’s going to be a good year.

In other news, the Bruins beat the Jets, Bolts, Panthers, Isles, Sens, and Bolts again! Sadly, our winning streak came to an end with a 4-3 loss to the Habs.

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Buchholz got shelled during his last start of the season.  It wasn’t pretty.  It certainly wasn’t a good note on which to end the year for him, especially given how well he’s been pitching lately.  It’s a real shame.  I would have loved to have decimate the Yankees, and I would have loved to have seen Buchholz play a big part in that, because he’s way better than last night’s line.

He only lasted one and two-thirds innings and gave up eight runs on six hits while walking two and striking out two.  The weird thing was that his first inning was solid gold; he retired the three batters he faced thanks to a flyout, a groundout, and a strikeout.  The second inning, however, was one of the worst innings I have ever seen him pitch, if you can even call it that.  His very first pitch of the frame was hit for a solo shot.  He got the first out of the inning on a strikeout.  And then he gave up a single and two consecutive home runs, the second of which was reviewed but stood as originally called.  Then he issued two consecutive walks on a total of sixteen pitches followed by a single, a sac fly that plated a run, and a double that plated two runs.  Aceves then replaced him and gave up a two-run home run before giving up a double and finally ending the inning.

Aceves had a solid third and pitched around two baserunners in the fourth.  Beato took over for the fifth, sixth, and two batters into the seventh.  Then it was Miller’s turn, and he finished the seventh.  Bailey gave up a single, a groundout that advanced the runner, and another single that scored him.

Meanwhile, Nava put us on the board for the first time in the fourth with a solo shot on the second pitch of his at-bat, a ninety-two mile-per-hour sinker that he launched to right center field.  We scored our last run in the seventh; Gomez led it off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout by Lavarnway, and scored on a sac fly by Salty.

So let me just put this in perspective for you.  The final score was an ugly, painful, and humiliating 10-2.  The Evil Empire scored all but one of its runs in the second inning alone, all but one of which were credited to Buchholz.  So, as I said, Buchholz gave up eight runs, and then Aceves and Bailey gave up one each.  That’s how bad Buchholz was.  He just didn’t have it.  He couldn’t find the strike zone, and when he could, he couldn’t close the deal.  It wasn’t that he was issuing a lot of walks; he issued only two.  The problem was that he wasn’t throwing strikes, so he was throwing a lot of pitches and getting tired and making mistakes at every turn.

We will not be leaving our mark on the baseball season of 2012.  Both the Yanks and the Orioles are now officially in the playoffs.  We didn’t spoil either team’s postseason potential.  The only thing that we could possibly effect now is who wins the division.  It’s a sad day when that’s all you’ve got.

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Last night’s game was awful, and the sad part is that it was over before it even practically got started.  Their first inning was as good as ours was bad, and that’s all the O’s needed to win.  It’s a sad, sad day when the outcome of an entire game is decided right out of the gate.

Obviously we batted first, and we scored one run.  Podsednik singled on the second pitch of the game, moved to second on a throwing error and third on a sac fly by Ciriaco, and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.  It was a great example of manufacturing a run.  All we needed to have done was do it more.

Then Cook took the mound for the bottom of the first, and it didn’t take long to get a sense of how his start was going to go.  His very first pitch was hit  for a single.  Then he induced a groundout and gave up a two-run home run.  Then he induced another groundout and gave up a single, a walk, and another single to load the bases.  And then he allowed that most embarrassing scoring play: a grand slam.  A grand total of six runs were scored on a grand total of two swings.  We were down by five runs before the first inning was over.

After issuing two consecutive walks to start the second, Cook was replaced by Aceves, who pitched just fine until the fifth.  After getting the inning’s first two outs, Aceves gave up three consecutive doubles followed by a single, which resulted in three more runs scoring.  Pedro Beato then took the ball and pitched extremely well; both of his full innings were one-two-three.  Then Bard pitched the eighth which, except for a walk, was blemish-free.

Meanwhile, we didn’t score again for the rest of the game.  We didn’t even threaten for the rest of the game.  Seriously.  Podsednik’s single was our only hit.  That’s right; we were one single away from being no-hit by the Baltimore Orioles.  We haven’t been one-hit since 2009.  And we walked only twice; one belonged to Pedroia and the other to Nava.  The final score was 9-1.

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On last night’s loss menu, we served up the gut-wrenching extra-innings blow.  Or rather that’s what we were served.

In the first, Cook gave up a run thanks to a walk-steal-groundout-groundout combination.  We tied it up that same inning when Pedroia doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway.  Neither team scored in the second or third.  The O’s went ahead in the fourth when Cook’s third pitch of the inning was hit for a solo shot.  We put ourselves back on top that same inning when Aviles singled to lead off the bottom half and Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot on his second pitch, a curveball.  Not an easy pitch to homer on, so it was nice to see the kid have a keen eye.  Neither team scored in the fifth.  After securing the first out of the sixth on a strikeout, Cook gave up a single and a double and was then replaced by Hill.  Hill gave up a bases-clearing triple before securing the inning’s second out, at which point he was replaced by Mortensen.  Mortensen gave up a solo shot on his first pitch of the seventh.  Fortunately, we mounted a comeback effort in the bottom of the inning.  Podsednik doubled, Ciriaco walked, and Pedroia singled to load the bases with nobody out.  Unfortunately, we did just about the most pathetic thing you can do with the bases loaded and still score runs.  Ross and Lavarnway grounded out back-to-back, which brought in two runs.  At that point, we were within one, Breslow had pitched the top of the eighth, and we tied it up at six the bottom of the inning; with two out, Nava doubled and scored on a double by Podsednik.

Tazawa pitched the ninth, and we went down in order.  Bailey pitched the tenth, and we had men on first and second with two out but did nothing.  Melancon pitched the eleventh, and we went down in order.

And then the twelfth inning arrived.  Aceves came in.  He gave up a double on his second pitch, a fine indication of things to come.  He induced a flyout for the first out of the inning and then gave up another double, which put us down by one.  Then he got a strikeout and gave up an RBI single, which put us down by two.  Then Carpenter came in and gave up another RBI single, which put us down by three.  In the bottom of the twelfth Gomez’s single was the extent of our offensive production.

We lost, 9-6.  Of the eleven games we’ve played in extras this year, we’ve won only two.  Neither of those have come at home.

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