Aceves, Melancon again fail Red Sox in end

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Aceves, Melancon again fail Red Sox in end

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."

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

CHICAGO -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox:

 

QUOTES

"I think the most encouraging thing was after a couple of hard-hit balls early on, he was still in attack mode.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"The biggest thing centers around his fastball. First inning, he might have been up a little bit. But after that, he was down in the zone and the curveball was a good compliment to that.'' - Farrell.

"Man, I tell you what -- he does it in such big moments.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz.

"If you could paint a picture, I think tonight would be just about what everybody would want to do.'' - Buchholz on his outing.

"I think everybody would be lying if they said they didn't see your numbers; you see them every day. (Being) 0-3 with a six-something (ERA) is obviously not where you want to be.'' - Buchholz.

"Hopefully, this is the start of something good coming out of him.'' - Ortiz on Buchholz.

"You feel like the luckiest man on planet earth - finally hitting the ball where no one's at!'' - Ortiz on beating the shift with a single through the shortstop hole in the seventh

 

NOTES

* When the Red Sox homer, they're 11-6.

* Clay Buchholz's win was his first since last July 10.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

* Mookie Betts has scored at least one run in 10 of his last 14 games.

* David Ortiz is now one homer from tying Carl Yastrzemski for second-most homers in franchise history at 452.

* Ortiz tied Gary Sheffield for 25th place all-time in homers with 509.

 

STARS

1) Clay Buchholz

After five straight poor outings, Buchholz turned in a gem, giving up two runs in the first, then nothing else for the next six innings.

2) David Ortiz

As he so often does, Ortiz delivered when the Red Sox needed him most, clocking a two-run homer in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.

3) Jose Abreu

The White Sox slugger belted a two-run homer in the first to give him five RBI in the two games in this series.

 

First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

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First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

CHICAGO - First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox.

 

If this was some sort of must-win proposition for Clay Buchholz, he passed his test.

Buchholz found himself behind 2-0 just three batters in when he allowed a two-run homer to Jose Abreu, but he righted himself nicely after that.

Buchholz pitched seven innings and didn't allow another run. In fact, Buchholz only yielded two more hits after the first - both singles.

John Farrell said he wanted to see Buchholz attack the strike zone with his fastball, pitch with a quicker tempo and not rely so much on his secondary stuff. To varying degrees, Buchholz accomplished all three and finished strong - retiring the last 10 hitters in a row and 16 of the last 17.

 

Josh Rutledge had a nice night off the bench.

Rutledge was a last-minute addition to the lineup when Hanley Ramirez was scratched with the flu and Travis Shaw was shifted from third base to first base.

Rutledge reached base three times with two singles and a walk. One of the singles drove in the fourth run, scoring Chris Young with an important insurance run.

 

David Ortiz broke out of his U.S. Cellular slump in a big way.

Coming into the game, Ortiz was hitless here in his last 19 at-bats and when he hit into a double play in the first and flied to center in the third, that stretched to 0-for-21. Since the start of 2014, those first two at-bats made Ortiz 1-for-26.

But in the fifth, Ortiz hammered a pitch from Carlos Rodon into the seats in right for a two-run homer, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the series.

For all the talk about Ortiz's difficulty hitting lefties, he's now third among lefty batters in homers off lefthanded pitchers since last July 2.

 

The home run power continues to be in short supply beyond Ortiz.

Last season, the Red Sox didn't have anyone hit 20 homers other than the (then) 39-year-old Ortiz.

Might the same thing happen again this year?

Ortiz hit his sixth homer last night, again leading the club. Mookie Betts is the only other hitter on the Sox with more than three homers -- and he hasn't hit one in his last 58 at-bats, dating back a week and a half.