Aceves, Melancon again fail Red Sox in end

Aceves, Melancon again fail Red Sox in end
April 9, 2012, 12:08 am
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DETROIT -- On Thursday, when the Red Sox bullpen couldn't preserve a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, it seemed like a crushing blow.

In retrospect, that was a mere inconvenience.

Welcome to full-blown panic.

What happened Friday, by comparison, was only mildly annoying and nothing compared to what happened Sunday when the Sox first blew a three-run lead in the ninth, then, two innings later, surrendered a two-run cushion, resulting in an improbable 13-12 loss to the Detroit Tigers and amounting to a second walkoff defeat in the span of just
over 72 hours.

"It just comes down to making good pitches," shrugged Mark Melancon, who gave up a two-strike, two-out, two-run homer to Alex Avila for the winning margin. "And I didn't do that. They're obviously a good team, but we needed to get that one today. And that's on my shoulders.

"It's still only three games, I understand that. But today can't happen."

Melancon has now absorbed two late-inning losses in his first three games with the Red Sox.

Passed over for the vacant closer's role after Andrew Bailey went down with thumb surgery, Melancon came in to close the game out in the 11th after the chosen closer, Alfredo Aceves, needed just seven pitches to blow a three-run lead in the ninth.

"What can I tell you?" asked Aceves. "There's nothing we can do. But forget about that, man. We've got a lot of games to play and a lot of things to do."

One of the things on the to-do list is re-evaluating the roles in the bullpen, which failed the Red Sox so spectacularly twice in the first series of the season.

After first insisting that he was proud of his team from rallying from a 4-0 first-inning deficit and commending them for a "great job, great job," manager Bobby Valentine acknowledged that there's an ongoing evaluation.

"We're trying to figure out what to do," said Valentine. "We'll keep it a work in progress. We're three (games) into this thing."

So far, however, the journey has been rockier than could have ever been imagined.

The offense, which managed just two runs in the first 18 innings, got untracked in a big way Sunday, erupting for 12 runs on 18 hits. After spotting the Tigers a 5-2 lead after two, the Sox erupted for five runs. They then twice broke ties: one in the sixth on a two-run homer from Adrian Gonzalez, and then, in the 11th, when they scratched
out two runs.

Neither time, however, could the bullpen make the leads stand.

"We're trying to figure out what to do," said Valentine. "We'll keep it a work in progress. We're three (games) into this thing."

Asked if Daniel Bard, slated to make the first start of his major league career Tuesday in Toronto, might be an option to close, Valentine said: "Might be."

But not long after, he indicated that both Melancon and Aceves would "still go out there."

Aceves was philosophical in the face of defeat, attempting to put the losses behind him as quickly as possible.

"It's one series," he said. "The first one. Even the Yankees (are struggling). It's a game. It's what happens. Sometimes they hit it and sometimes they don't.

"Forget about Detroit."

Melancon, meanwhile, was more contrite and contemplative.

"I need to stay aggressive and not let these affect me and keep going," said Melancon.

The reliever then paused and offered a hint at the difficulty of overcoming the first series.

"If," added Melancon, "I can ever sleep."