After winning three straight games (the last two in ridiculous fashion) to climb back into a tie for first place in the AL East, the Red Sox were hit with a sobering blow on Sunday night.
“Clay Buchholz has been scratched from tomorrow's start versus Philadelphia due to irritation in his right AC joint.”
And if the first part of the report didn’t make you sick to your stomach, then no doubt the follow-up left you with a puke-covered keyboard.
“Aceves will start in his place.”
Players (or just people) as mysterious and complex as Alfredo Aceves are often beyond description, but the last line of Alfredo’s Wikipedia page manages to sum up the Sox pitcher in one measly sentence:
“Aceves wears #91, a number worn by Dennis Rodman, whom Aceves admires.”
Yup. That’ll do. That’s Aceves — a son of Dennis Rodman. The wild card. The loose cannon. The guy who tells a catcher to expect a curveball and throws a fastball. The guy who spends an entire inning (with his team down five runs) making pickoff attempts to second base. The guy who shows up to Spring Training and refuses to throw anything but eephus pitches. The guy who goes to the World Baseball Classic and incites an international incident. Add another six inches, a few piercings and a wedding gown and you’re there.
Well, except that Dennis Rodman was Hall of Famer. One of the best rebounders and defensive players in NBA history. And lately, Aceves has been a disaster. Before last night’s start, he was 3-11 over the last two years, with an ERA up around 6.00. He’d done nothing to justify the almost constant headache, and it was long past time to wonder why he was even still employed.
At the very least, his presence didn’t provide much comfort after learning that one of the two players that the Sox simply can’t afford to lose was set to miss his first start of the season with a previously unknown injury.
But last night, Aceves threw a curveball (for real this time).
Six innings, seven hits, four strikeouts, three hits and most importantly, one earned run, in the Sox 9-3 victory. He wasn’t perfect, but that was never the expectation. All this team needed was a quality start, and Aceves, in only his second appearance since being called up from Pawtucket, took care of business and kept the Sox rolling. What was seen as a potential setback resulted in a fourth straight win and left Boston with sole possession of first place for the first time since May 7.
Naturally, Aceves didn’t speak with the media after the game. In fact, by the time reporters made it into the clubhouse, Aceves was already gone and his locker was entirely empty — a reasonable sign that he’s been sent back to Pawtucket in favor of finally-healthy Franklin Morales. And with that, who knows when we’ll see Aceves again, or what kind of Rodman-like behavior (I’m hoping for sleeping with Madonna over kicking a cameraman in the junk) he has planned in the meantime. But for one night at least, and for the first time in a long time, the Aceves experience was worth it.