Red Sox bullpen experiences rare off-night

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Red Sox bullpen experiences rare off-night

BOSTON -- Perhaps it was the law of averages.

A Red Sox bullpen which has been so good and so dependable for the past six weeks picked a bad time to have a collective collapse Tuesday night, costing the Red Sox an 8-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Alfredo Aceves allowed two runs in the top of the 10th after the Red Sox had rallied in dramatic fashion with a two-out, two-run homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the ninth.

Aceves walked Mark Reynolds to open the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt, allowed three straight singles, producing two runs.

It was just the second loss for Aceves since April 21.

"They are real good hitters over there,'' said Aceves. "We have to make our pitches. Unfortunately, we didn't get the result that we wanted.''

Trouble started when he put the potential go-ahead runner on base to start the inning.

"I was behind in the count,'' said Aceves. "Every (hitter) that you walk is going to score (in that situation), 100 percent.''

Aceves, who enjoys a heavy workload, hadn't pitched since Saturday, but said the rest wasn't a factor in his being less than sharp.

"It's just part of the job,'' he said. "Unfortunately, we lost. You're going to have bad days, but whatever.''

The two runs allowed by Aceves weren't the first runs scored off the Boston bullpen on the night. In the seventh, with the Red Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead, Bobby Valentine elected to lift starter Jon Lester after a leadoff single.

Scott Atchison, who had strung together 15 straight scoreless appearances covering 19 23 innings, was tagged for two runs when he allowed Lester's run and two more to score on two hits.

"Sooner or later, it was probably going to happen,'' said Atchison, who allowed a run for the first time since April 29. "Unfortunately it happened tonight with a one-run lead. But everything felt the same as it had been.''

Atchison wasn't hit particularly hard, with Robert Andino grounding a ball to right and J.J. Hardy singling to center. But the hits were costly nonetheless.

"Those things are going to happen,'' said Atchison. "It seemed like, with a runner in scoring position, some balls snuck through or were placed well. But that's part of it and there's nothing you can do about it. You can turn around tomorrow night and they can hit
five missles, all right at somebody. It's all part of it.''

Of his snapped scoreless streak, Atchison said: "It's been a good run. I kind of noticed it after a while. But it's over now; I'll get back out there tomorrow and try to start another (scoreless streak). That's kind of the best way to do it and that's what I plan to do.''

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg appears headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg appears headed to disabled list

Tyler Thornburg might be joining David Price on the disabled list to start the season.
 
Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.
 
Thornburg, acquired in the trade that sent Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.