Notes: Aceves strong in second start

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Notes: Aceves strong in second start

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT Alfredo Aceves had one reason to join the Red Sox, which he did as a free agent in February.

They have a huge, huge, huge opportunity to win the World Series, he said after Thursdays game in Detroit.

The Red Sox had one main reason to sign him.

We got him as a depth starter, said manager Terry Francona. He can certainly pitch out of the bullpen because he can pitch. But this was the main reason he was signed.

Whether or not the Sox win the World Series this year remains to be seen. But Aceves, in his last two outings, has given them what they were looking for: A chance to win when he pitches.

In his second start since Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey went on the disabled list, Aceves went six innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts to earn the win as the Sox pummeled the Tigers, 14-1. In his two fill-in starts he has gone a combined 11 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and five walks with six strikeouts.

With the win, improving to 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA. (He did not factor in the decision in his first start, May 21 against the Cubs. He left after the fifth with the Sox leading, 2-1, only to have the bullpen implode in the eighth for eight runs.)

He threw strikes. He changed speeds. I thought he followed catcher Jason Varitek real well, Francona said. Looked to me like he only shook him off one time, which to me, when 'Teks catching is always a good thing. And they were on the same page. His pitches are good slider, fastball, changeup. But I thought he followed Tek real well.

Aceves and Varitek appeared to be in sync better in this game, with the right-hander shaking off his catcher much less.

Hes real good, Aceves said of Varitek. Hes been in the league for . . . a long time. I trust him.

Aceves and Varitek are still getting used to each other.

It was much better and we were in a much better rhythm than the start against the Cubs, Varitek said. It helps the people behind you play better when that happens.

But theres a combo. Hes been successful for a reason because of his stuff, and today was a day that we took some steps in that learning process.

Making his seventh career start Thursday, Aceves was staked to a five-run lead after the second inning, cruising through his outing. The first time through the Tigers lineup, the most he fell behind was a two-ball count to Don Kelly in the first inning before striking out the Tigers No. 2 hitter on an 89-mph cutter.

The lone run he allowed came in the fourth inning. Aceves opened the inning hitting Brennan Boesch with a pitch. Miguel Cabrera followed that with a single before Victor Martinez grounded into a fielders choice, erasing Cabrera. After Jhonny Peralta popped out to Drew Sutton for the second out, Alex Avila singled to left, scoring Boesch.

Three of Aceves six strikeouts ended innings with runners on base.

Yeah, and with a lot of different pitches, Varitek said. And different tilts on his fastball. His curveball. We used his changeup. But he did a real god job today.

With the win, Aceves extended his streak major league-best streak of wins in his last 12 decisions. This was Aceves first win in that streak that came as a starter. His 11 wins as a reliever was the longest in the American League since Jesse Crain had 11 in a row for the Twins from Sept. 1, 2004 July 1, 2005.

Aceves is pleased with his two starts. But thats only part of it.

Im happy every day, he said. Im happy every day. If Im alive Im happy. Im going to start with that.

David Ortiz went 2-for-3, extending his hit streak to eight games. He is hitting .457 (16-for-35) in that stretch.

Jason Varitek went 1-for-5, extending his hit streak to six games. He is batting .318 (7-for-22) in that stretch. It is his longest streak since he hit in nine straight games from April 21May 4, 2006.

Before Crawfords two-triple game, Jacoby Ellsbury was the last Sox batter to do so, on June 23, 2009.

Before Crawfords back-to-back four-hit games, Dustin Pedroia was the last Sox player to do so, on Aug. 29 and 30, 2008.

Outfielder Daniel Nava cleared waivers and was out righted to Pawtucket.

Right-hander BobbyJenks, sidelined since May 2 because of a right biceps strain, isscheduled to throw an inning with about 20-25 pitches for PawtucketFriday in the game against Indianapolis at McCoy Stadium. If the outinggoes well, he will pitch another inning Sunday and is likely to beactivated early next week.

Lackey, on the DL since May 12 with a right elbowstrain, is scheduled to throw a simulated game Friday before his rehabstart with Pawtucket on Tuesday.

Matsuzaka, on the DL with a right elbow strain since May 17, isstill on schedule to see Dr. Lewis Yokum in Los Angeles on May 31 onhis way back from Japan, where he is for personalreasons.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

The Red Sox need to let their lineup sort itself out a bit, and really, need to see how one core player in particular fares: Xander Bogaerts. 
 
Until then, Red Sox manager John Farrell should try to alternate right- and left-handed hitters as much as possible against right-handed pitching
 
If Thursday’s Grapefruit League lineup indeed winds up as a preview for the regular season, Farrell’s on the right track.
 
1. Dustin Pedroia 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi LF
3. Mookie Betts RF
4. Hanley Ramirez DH
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
8. Pablo Sandoval 3B
9. Blake Swihart C
 
Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez should be at catcher normally, rather than Swihart. (If Leon shows he can in fact hit again, the Sox could also decide to put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the nine-hole.)
 
"Maybe a first look at our lineup," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "I'm not saying this is Opening Day, but this is potential for one on Opening Day. And just to get everybody back in the rhythm. We've kind of fragmented because of the WBC and because of travel and bouncing around the state. To get our camp finally together, I think we're all looking forward to these last remaining games."
 
Betts is the best all-around producer the Red Sox have. He should be in the three-hole, despite chatter than Andrew Benintendi might be a fit.
 
But Bogaerts’ success will determine a lot of the flexibility available to Farrell. (Yes, everybody has to be healthy for the above statement to be true. And remember, lineups are important, but probably not as important as we’ve all been raised to believe). 

If Bogaerts plays like he did in the first half, when he batted .329 en route to an All-Star appearance, he could easily slide into the three-hole, and push Betts into the second or fourth spot. Or even leadoff.
 
If Bogaerts is the .253 hitter he was after the All-Star break, well, the second half of the lineup is where he belongs. 
 
Bogaerts is, ultimately, better than he showed as both he and the season wore down. But let him establish himself in a groove before you start loading up the top of the lineup with right-handed hitters, thereby giving opposing managers a clear path for righty relievers.
 
(The Red Sox could pinch hit Chris Young at any time, but you’re usually not taking out one of your best players just for a platoon advantage.)
 
And from another perspective, you almost need Bogaerts in the second half of the lineup. Because what else is there?
 
Say the Sox load all four right-handed hitters at the top.
 
1. Pedroia
2. Bogaerts
3. Betts
4. Ramirez 
 
That’s awesome. Then what? Benintendi and cross your fingers? Benintendi seems as sure a thing as any sophomore — well, technically a rookie — can be. But still.
 
This is where Moreland and Sandoval represent other X-factors. All spring, there’s been talk of how Fenway Park and a use-all-fields approach will benefit Moreland. That may be so — but to what extent? How much better can he reasonably be? The Sox are internally encouraged.
 
As it stands now, however, there’s no obvious choice to protect Ramirez, considering Moreland is coming off a season where he had a .293 on-base percentage against righties.
 
And with Sandoval, whether he’s anything more than a wet napkin vs. left-handed pitching is to be seen. There’s reason to believe he can handle right-handed pitchers at least adequately, so he'll get the start — but he could be the first guy pinch hit for nightly.
 

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.