Aceves not sharp versus hot White Sox bats


Aceves not sharp versus hot White Sox bats

By DannyPicard

BOSTON --@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Red Sox offense fought back to score six runs in thefinal two innings on Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox at FenwayPark, but the damage had already been done.

Alfredo Aceves allowed eight runs, six earned, in five-plusinnings in the Red Sox' 10-7 defeat, giving him his first loss since June of 2009.

Tuesday night was just his third start of the season. Hisusual role is in the bullpen, and it may be a role that hell soon return tonow that John Lackey will officially be back pitching on Sunday.

Whatever Aceves' role, he wasnt nearly as goodin his third start of the season as he was in his first two. In those appearances, he allowed only two earned runs in 11 innings.

Tuesday, however, told a different story.

I dont think he executed like he has certainly in the lastcouple of outings, said Red Sox manager Terry Francona after Tuesday nights10-7 loss to the White Sox. Saying that, there were some balls that foundholes. The two walks, and us not finishing the ground ball to short, certainlydidnt help in that inning. But he wasnt quite as sharp as hes been.

The White Sox scored four runs in the second inning, afterAceves loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks and an A.J. Pierzynskisingle. Gordon Beckham singled to left field to score Paul Konerko, and then RedSox shortstop Jed Lowrie booted a Brent Morel grounder in the hole that scoredPierzynski to make it 2-0. Alexei Ramirez topped it off with a two-run singleup the middle to make it 4-0.

Pierzynski added another run with an RBI ground-rule doublein the third to make it 5-0, and then Ramirez drove in Chicagos sixth run inthe fourth to give the White Sox a 6-1 lead.

Aceves was removed from the game with no outs the sixthafter he hit Adam Dunn with a pitch and then allowed a single to Beckham. ScottAtchison came in, and Juan Pierre drove in two more runs that were charged toAceves, giving the White Sox a commanding 8-1 lead.

Though Aceves wasnt as sharp as he wasin his first two starts, everyone involved realized that the White Sox shouldget some credit for having brought their "A" game, as well as a little luck.

It was one of those games where you feel real good, and thethings dont happen that way, said Aceves. You just have to swallow, andprepare myself for the next start.

The White Sox are really good hitters too, and I feel happyfor us because we scored a lot of runs too, added Aceves. That helps us a lotto win a ballgame. Unfortunately, I couldnt hold the team.

They have really good hitters, Konerko and Pierzynski. Itwas a little bit of everything. Sometimes mistakes, sometimes not luck, andsometimes they swung at good pitches, and it was luck for them.

Jason Varitek was behind the plate for Aceves on Tuesdaynight, and while he said hes still learning about him, he agreed with Acevesopinions on what went wrong, and more specifically, what went right forChicago.

I thought the White Sox just swung the bats well, saidVaritek. We werent able to adjust. We werent able to get into a good rhythm.They went from hitting some good pitches, to balls finding holes. We couldntreally ever get ourselves established with anything.

Sometimes you credit the other side, added Varitek. And Ithought today that they did a good job of when he did make pitches, balls foundsome holes. They also did a good job of hitting. That second inning startsoff with a walk, and then A.J. has a really good at-bat and pulls his handsinside on a cutter that was a pretty dog-gone good pitch.

If you have some things going different ways, some resultscan be different.

The results were different for Aceves on Tuesday night, asthe loss was only the second of his career, as opposed to his 16 total wins.

With Lackey returning to the rotation Sunday, Aceves rolecould change in the near future. Whether its staying in the rotation as thefifth starter until Daisuke Matsuzaka comes back, or returning to the bullpen,Aceves is prepared.

Ive been saying it all season, Im a pitcher, saidAceves. Thats what I do. Im a pitcher. It dont matter whats your spot oryour role. Youve got to pitch. Youve got to make outs. Youve got to getouts.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl


Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO -- Drilled in the hip by a heater, Bryce Harper knew where this was headed. In a hurry, too.

"You see red," he said.

Enraged, the Washington slugger charged the mound, wildly fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with reliever Hunter Strickland, setting off a furious brawl Monday during the Nationals' 3-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.

"You never want to get suspended or anything like, but sometimes you just got to go and get them and can't hesitate," Harper said. "You either go to first base or you go after him and I decided to go after him."

The two players have a history, stemming from two home runs Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 playoffs.

"I can see how that stands in people's minds," Strickland said.

This flashpoint came in their first matchup since then, with two outs in the eighth inning, none on and Washington ahead 2-0., Strickland hit Harper with the first pitch, a 98 mph fastball.

Harper didn't wait. The four-time All-Star pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

"My head was on a swivel, as quick as I could to not get taken out by somebody on their team or anything like that," he said.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. Giants star catcher Buster Posey stuck near the plate when Harper bolted, and stayed clear of the fracas as things escalated.

"Strick and him are the only ones that can answer why" the fight happened, Posey said.

Posey got a concussion last month from a beaning. He said he wasn't thinking about that accident, but was concerned about injuries.

"There were some big guys tumbling around out there," he said. "So it was a little dangerous to get in there sometimes."

Harper's eyes were wide as he flung his helmet -- it wasn't close to Strickland but it might've slipped, as helmets are hard to throw accurately -- and they started swinging away.

The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper said.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters.

"I'm OK, but why is that news?" Morse said. "I was trying to get in there to break everyone up."

Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected, and are certain to face punishment from Major League Baseball.

No injuries were reported in either clubhouse. Harper attributed a scratch to Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon pulling him away from the brawl.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. Harper watched the second shot sail down the line, in Game 4, and glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases.

"I wasn't sure what was going on, but I think [the Giants] were definitely shocked at the situation, shocked that he would do something like that three years later," Harper said.

"It just wasn't relevant. Like I said, it was three years ago, over a thousand days, I guess," Harper said. "I don't know why he's thinking about it. He's got a World Series ring. It's on his finger and he's able to look at it every single night."

Angry, Harper did at least appreciate there was no head-hunting.

"One thing I've got to say about Strickland is he hit me in the right spot, so I do respect him for that," Harper said. "He didn't come up and in toward my face like some guys do, so I respect him on that level."

Strickland said he missed his spot.

"I left the ball over the plate a couple of times to him," he said. "He's taken advantage of that, so I went inside. Obviously, I got in a little too far."

"He decided to come out, that's what he decided to do. It's go time. You protect yourself and stand your own ground," he said. "And I'll take what consequences come with it. I was pretty fired up, to be honest. It's part of the game."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy framed it for everyone.

"It looks bad, it does," he said. "Harper gets hit and you look at a guy who's given up some home runs, and he'll tell you that he was trying to come in. You don't want to make a mistake there. You have two guys who don't care for each other too much. It was a pretty good pile."

Nationals manager Dusty Baker had no doubt about Strickland's intent.

"We were ahead 2-0, two outs and nobody on base. I mean, that's the prime time to hit somebody if you're going to hit them, it looked like it was intentional to me," he said.

"What's a man supposed to do? He's not a punching bag, he's human with emotions. I know he took [Strickland] deep in the playoffs a couple of times and he probably took exception to that. I mean baseball is a game where you don't forget and you can hold grudges for a long, long time."

Too long in the estimation of Harper and his teammates.

"Completely uncalled for," said Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who wasn't with Washington in 2014. "Bryce hits one . . . off him in a big spot from what I understand, I think I remember seeing it live, and Hunter waits three years. I think if the Giants thought it was that egregious, Bryce would've gotten one the next season."

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, Harper's teammate in 2014, said the incident shouldn't come as that big a surprise.

"You can't assume what other people are thinking or what other people are going to do," he said. "History is history, some people hold it longer than others."

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong


Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.