Ortiz calls for Aceves in the starting role


Ortiz calls for Aceves in the starting role

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON -- David Ortiz surely meant no disrespect to Kyle Weiland, but he thought there might have been a better choice for a starting pitcher in the first game of Monday's doubleheader.

Alfredo Aceves, who has been so valuable because of his versatility this season, pitched three scoreless innings in Monday afternoon's 6-5 loss to the Orioles. He held the Os in check while the Sox fought back to within one run. If it was up to Ortiz, Aceves, who has made four starts this season, would have taken the mound in the first inning, not the seventh.

The way things are going he should be starting, said Ortiz. Simple as that. Give it a shot.

In his four starts, spanning 21 innings, Aceves has a record of 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA. He has given up 14 runs (12 earned) on 20 hits and 13 walks, with 13 strikeouts. He has not given up a home run, holding opponents to a .250 average.

But he has not started since June 21, against the Padres. His bullpen role became too valuable.

Hes got good stuff, man, Ortiz said. You see how easy he gets hitters out. I think at one point, he might be a starter. I dont know. It all depends on what our front office decides. Hes got good stuff, man. And we definitely need a guy who can come in and give us six or seven good innings. It seems like hes capable of doing it. Well see.

Although manager Terry Francona has shown little inclination to put Aceves in the rotation, there is potentially still time to see what Aceves could do in that role. Certainly, he can't do much worse than most of the other starting pitching performances the Sox have had in September.

In 18 games this month, entering Mondays night game, starting pitchers have gone just 86 innings, averaging less than five innings a game.They have given up 68 runs (61 earned) on 100 hits and 43 walks with 75 strikeouts and 13 home runs. The starters have posted a combined 6.38 ERA while pitching just three quality starts.

Aceves, meanwhile, lowered his ERA to 2.74 with his performance Monday afternoon.

"We still have like, what, right games left?" Ortiz said. "Its not going to be tomorrow. He threw 53 pitches, 32 for strikes today. But, hes got Jon Lester stuff. And weve been seeing that for a while, right?"

While Aceves has proven his value to the pitching staff, especially taking long innings in relief, what the Sox desperately need now is a starting pitcher who can give the team a quality outing -- and preferably a win.

Perhaps Aceves is that pitcher.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.