He may be the quirkiest, most confusing and mentally mysterious Red Sox reliever since Julian Tavarez, but in this, his first (and likely only) season as closer, Alfredo Aceves continues to get the job done.
Since blowing his first save opportunity on April 9 and inciting a media firestorm that led Tony Massarotti to poop his pants on terrestrial radio (I think) Aceves has saved 11 games in 12 opportunities. Of course, that one blown save was the legendarily miserable performance against the Yankees on April 21. But since that day, Aceves has been better than ever, with 9 saves in 15 appearances. Over that time, including this afternoon, he's also given the Sox more than one inning on five occasions, and has pitched 18.1 innings while compiling a 0.98 ERA.
And here's something else: One of the major criticisms of the decision to name Aceves the closer was that he's not a strikeout pitcher. Well, with his one K this afternoon, Aceves in now tied for first among AL closers with 23 strikeouts. How about that?
And how about this: Alfredo Aceves has been one of the undisputed heroes of this 2012 season. With Andrew Bailey's last-minute injury, the late revelation that Mark Melancon's better suited for Little League, and the resistance to take Daniel Bard out of the rotation, the Sox were on the verge of absolute disaster in that bullpen.
But Crazy Alfredo has steadied the ship, and in the process, erased one of the most explosive and controversial talking points from early in this Red Sox season.
Tony Mazz's underwear couldn't be more thankful.
Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine
Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.
Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.
Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.
Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.
Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.
Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.
Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.
Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners.
Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014.
Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.