Aceves loses control in spot start vs. Padres

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Aceves loses control in spot start vs. Padres

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

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.