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

Report: Shane Victorino released by Cubs


Report: Shane Victorino released by Cubs

Shane Victorino's career may be approaching the finish line.

The 35-year-old outfielder's attempt to catch on with the Cubs is over, as Carrie Muskat of reports he's been released. He had suffered a calf injury in spring training and was sidelined for about a month-and-a-half, then hit .233/.324/.367 in Triple-A Iowa. 

Victorino's first year in Boston, 2013, was far and away his best, as he hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 homers and 61 RBI in helping the Red Sox win the World Series. His next two seasons were riddled with injuries, and the Sox traded him to the Angels last July at the deadline for infielder Josh Rutledge. He struggled in Anaheim (.214/.292/.286 in 98 at-bats) and was allowed to become a free agent at the end of the season. 

Bradley’s hitting streak continues, but it’s not getting any easier


Bradley’s hitting streak continues, but it’s not getting any easier

BOSTON -- The Cleveland series exposed the one glaring issue that arises when batters are on a lengthy hitting streak -- pitchers will stop pitching to you.

Although the word apparently didn’t reach them about Xander Bogaerts, who now has a 16-game hitting streak of his own, Terry Francona’s pitchers avoided Jackie Bradley, Jr. like the plague. After getting walked three times in the Kansas City series that preceded the Indians' visit to Fenway Park -- a season high in a series until that point for Bradley -- he was walked six times by Cleveland over the weekend.

In games 14 through 19 of Bradley’s 27-game streak he was 15-for-25 (.600), clearly the height of his performance in that span. Since game 20, he’s hitting .346 -- still very impressive -- but he’s only had one multi-hit game through his last eight games of his streak.

And in three of his last five games, he hasn’t gotten a hit until there have been at least two turns through the lineup.

“He’s addressing any different type of pitch thrown at him,” John Farrell said of Bradley following Sunday’s 5-2 win. “Yesterday and today, knowing that they might pitch him carefully, he’s not expanding the strike zone.”

While the walks are a testament to his impressive run, Bradley isn’t looking for any free passes. Because instead of getting three at-bats where pitchers are going after him, he’s often getting two, sometimes one at-bat with pitches he can work with.

“[I’m] just trying to see good pitches, put good swings on them and take what they’re giving me,” JBJ said about his late-game adjustments.

He claims he hasn’t noticed any tendencies from pitchers throughout the streak -- even though it seems that every single is on a pitch down and away, while every extra-base hit is a mistake on the inner half.

Either way, a few things can be said from the last eight games of JBJ’s streak.

The obvious first is his walk total is going to go up, giving him fewer opportunities to extend the streak.

Second, the real JBJ is starting to show himself. The question, “What’s going to happen when he cools down?” that arose during the point of the streak where he hit .600, is already being answered.

Bradley is showing that he’s not the same free-swinging kid Boston rushed up in 2013. He will wait for his pitch -- and take advantage of it when he gets it.