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Posts Tagged ‘Alfredo Aceves’

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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The badness keeps on coming and coming.  It just doesn’t stop.  Just when you think we somehow finally pulled it together with hardly any games left to play so that at least we can go out with our heads held high, we reach a new low.

I don’t even know where to start.  I’ll start with the hitters, because there’s less to discuss, which was obviously a big part of the problem.  We actually scored first; Ciriaco hit the fourth pitch of the game for a single, stole second, and scored on a single by Ellsbury.  We were still leading after three; Iglesias worked a five-pitch walk to start the third, Ciriaco singled, and then Ellsbury singled and Pedroia grounded into a force out to bring both of them in.  That was the last time we led because those were the last runs we scored.  Of the rest of our innings, four were spent going down in order, and in the two remaining innings we only had one runner on at one time in each, none of whom went past first.

The Rays were not so unlucky because our pitchers were awful.  They were just embarrassingly, pathetically awful.  It all started with Dice-K, who went one-two-three in the first, which was not at all an indication of what was to come.  In the second, he allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases and then walked in a run, all without recording an out.  In the third, he gave up a single, which turned into a double thanks to a steal and then into a run one out later thanks to another single.  He gave up a solo shot on his third pitch of the fourth followed by a single and another home run followed by a double.

That was when Aceves came in.  Aceves got out of the fourth and even pitched through the fifth.  But he got into trouble in the sixth.  To start the inning, he issued a five-pitch walk.  Then he gave up single, and both runners advanced thanks to his throwing error.  Then he gave up a bases-clearing triple that may as well have been a home run because the hitter scored also on a missed catch by Ciriaco.  Then Aceves gave up a double.

That was when Bard came in.  Bard did not get out of the sixth.  It only took him nine pitches to issue two consecutive walks.  He then gave up a sac fly that scored one run and a single that scored another.  He then issued another five-pitch walk to load the bases.

That was when Miller came in.  Miller didn’t get out of the sixth, either.  He also issued two consecutive walks, which both walked in runs since the bases were loaded and reloaded.

That was when Atchison came in.  Atchison got out of the sixth and even pitched through the seventh.  Carpenter came on for the eighth and gave up a double.  He got the first out on a flyout, but then the runner advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a single.  Two walks and one out later, the bases were loaded again, but Carpenter managed to close the door this time.

So, after all was said and done, the final score was 13-3.  We made two errors and passed one ball, but all of the runs we allowed were earned.  In total, our pitchers struck out five but walked ten and allowed fifteen hits.  That’s right.  We walked twice as many batters and allowed three times as many hits as strikeouts.  Dice-K took the loss.  The only pitcher under whose watch no runner crossed the plate was Atchison.  That’s one pitcher out of six.  It was so bad that, after the Rays, who are supposedly in a slump right now, scored seven runs in the sixth, there was a massive exit of most of the starters to start the seventh inning.

And just like that, we’ve clinched our first losing season since 1997.

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