Aceves loses control in spot start vs. Padres


Aceves loses control in spot start vs. Padres

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Before Tuesdays game against the Padres, Red Sox manager Terry Francona mentioned how fortunate he is to have pitchers like Alfredo Aceves, Tim Wakefield and Andrew Miller to fill in when his regular starting pitchers are unavailable.

Then the game started, and the Red Sox didn't feel so fortunate.

Aceves started in place of Josh Beckett, who was ill, and the Padres scarcely had to worry about hitting him; they only had to wait for him to issue walks. He walked five batters in a row -- with two outs, no less -- in the second inning, leading to two San Diego runs, and put the Sox in a 4-1 hole during his five-inning stint. Boston eventually tied the game, but wound up losing to the Padres, 5-4.

It was Aceves' fourth start of the season, but unlike any hes made before. In his first two starts of the season, he was nearly untouchable, giving up a combined two runs on eight hits in 11 innings.

Tuesday was much different because Aceves simply couldn't find the strike zone.

His previous high for walks allowed in a game was four, in four innings Sept. 26, 2008, while with the Yankees against the Red Sox. He passed that in one inning Tuesday night.

He just lost his command, Francona said. Normally a hitter or two, you reel it back in. He just didnt find it for a while because after that he came back and actually threw the ball pretty well and put up some zeroes. His stuff was fine, but he lost the plate and it hurt.

After retiring the first two batters in the second inning Orlando Hudson on a grounder to shortstop Marco Scutaro and Anthony Rizzo on a fly ball to left fielder Josh Reddick Aceves walked five straight batters, forcing in two runs, before getting out of the inning. Two of the free passes came on four pitches.

Aceves said the short notice before his start -- he found out he was pitching Monday night -- did not affect his performance.

You just got to do it, he said. Adjust, focus, whatever you got to do. I came here today early, like two hours before the game or more, maybe three hours. Come to video room, see the lineup. The lineup was on my chair and I do my plan. Simple, not too crazy. Just simple, what it is, and go for it.

The last major-leaguer to walk five consecutive batters in an inning was Clevelands Jason Davis in the eighth inning in Seattle on April 24, 2005, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Since divisional play began in 1969, Darren Oliver (five walks in the fifth inning on May 11, 2002 in Seattle) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (five walks in the fifth inning on May 27, 2010 against the Royals) are the only other Sox pitchers with as many walks in an inning, according to Elias.

Aceves added to his walk total in the fourth, issuing yet another four-pitch pass to Jason Bartlett to open the inning.

I lost command, said Aceves. Unfortunately, I lost command. I was trying to keep the ball down."

He followed the two-out, five-walk, two-run second inning with a two-out, three-hit, two-run third. He had just one clean inning, the fifth, which was his final inning,.

We needed him to go five innings, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Its tough for him coming out of the bullpen, starting and then going to the bullpen role. So, its tough but Ace is always ready to come in there and pitch. Just had that one bad inning of control.

Its tough when you lose feel like that. I just try and slow it down, get him back on track the best way you can. But when you lose feel like that, and your arm slot drops a little bit, you just got to battle through it and thats what he did.

Aceves, though not pleased with his performance, was satisfied that he had a strong finish to his outing.

It was not my best, he said. But I started good and I finished strong. It happens, you know . . . I tried to come back and I did.

Aceves, who is 3-1 with a 3.70 ERA overall, is now 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA (12 earned runs over 21 innings) in his four starts this season.

What does he do with an outing like this?

You learn, you learn, you learn, he said. The last inning I was feeling, feeling, not thinking of mechanics. I was feeling and making pitches.

Have to have something bad for good things to happen.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.