By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com 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