By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON With both starting pitchers the Royals' Danny Duffy and the Red Sox' Andrew Miller getting pounded Tuesday night through just 3 23 innings, and with both bullpens pretty well beaten up after Mondays 14-inning game, the Sox had one advantage in their bullpen:
Right-hander Alfredo Aceves.
After Miller was driven from the game with two outs in the fourth inning, and the Sox trailing by two runs, Aceves entered and shut down the Royals for the next 3 13 innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three. That performance earned himself the win, improving to 6-1, and lowering his ERA to 3.10.
It was just what the Sox needed, as their offense broke open for eight runs over the next six innings, giving them a 13-9 win over the Royals.
We got in our bullpen a lot Monday night, said manager Terry Francona. And we had everybody available Tuesday. But if Aceves doesnt do what he does, youre asking a lot. And the ability to not just get people out but to go multiple innings is so important. Its been so valuable to us.
Working between the bullpen and making four starts this season, Aceves improves to 20-2 in his career, the first pitcher to win 20 of his first 22 career decisions since St. Louis Howie Krist did it from 1937-1942, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Aceves has won his last 15 relief decisions since June 7, 2009, the longest relief win streak in the majors since Phil Regan won 15 straight decisions with the Dodgers from May 17, 1966 through May 10, 1967.
I knew coming in to this after Monday night it was my job to pitch deep into the game and didnt do a good job of that tonight, Miller said. Fortunately, Aceves was able to come in and pick up a lot of slack.
Aceves has been picking up a lot of slack this season. Just one of his wins this season has come while he has started. The other five he earned in relief. His ability to not only shut down opponents, but go multiple innings has been extremely beneficial. He has thrown a high of six innings while starting and 4 23 out of the bullpen.
Aceves did one heck of a job, catcher Jason Varitek said of the right-handers performance against the Royals.
Aceves gave us a chance to get our offense going, settle everything down. And then everybody was a little worn from Monday night. It doesnt matter whos coming in . . . but Aceves set that tone. He did an awesome job.
Hes got a good repertoire of pitches, and thats a good thing to have on your team.
With Miller leaving early, Aceves performance minimized what could have been another tough night on the bullpen, with little carry-over effect for Wednesday.
Its OK, Francona said. Because what Aceves did, nobodys gotten overworked. We hung on and won tonight. If you start matching up early, though, youre certainly running the risk of getting in trouble. And we dont want to do that.
Julian Tavarez held a similar role in the Sox pen a few years ago with one exception.
Julian Tavarez did it, Francona said. He kind of took the ball, maybe more of a mop-up type, where Aceves is pitching in games where were winning and holding on . . . Its a pretty unique role.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.