PawSox notes: Aceves gets Opening Night start

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PawSox notes: Aceves gets Opening Night start

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PAWTUCKET, RI As the Opening Night starter for the Pawtucket Red Sox Thursday against Rochester, Alfredo Aceves knows whats expected of him.

Its an honor, he said. And a responsibility, too.

After making his first major league Opening Day roster last season, with the Yankees, no one could fault him if he was disappointed at not making the big-league team this year. Aceves, who still has options, was among the last roster moves, getting sent down the day before the Red Sox opened their season.

In 10 Grapefruit League games he had a record on 0-1 with one save and a 4.05 ERA, allowing six earned runs, with 13 hits, including two home runs, with three walks and four strikeouts in 13 13 innings. In 10 games with the Yankees last year, he was 3-0 (3.00). But a strained lower back limited him to 12 big-league games. A rehab stint was cut short after seven appearances and he was shut down for the season. An offseason biking accident left him with a broken left (non-throwing) collarbone. Hes healthy now, but feels he could have had a better showing in spring training.

My spring training, no, I couldnt have it better, but I was focused on other things, he said. And I live and learn. So I learn from that. Its not going to happen next year.

What was he focused on?

Showing the Red Sox that I was healthy, and working on the pitches, and not focus on numbers, he said. Maybe if I focus on numbers, I make the team. But I learn from that, from this spring training and its not going to happen next year.

I like his track record, said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. Hes been a very successful guy. He seems to be a real hard worker, very focused about what hes doing. Hes got a lot of ability. Hes proven it at the major league. So I expect him to be pretty successful at this level. Hopefully, we can enjoy him while we can.

Aceves will be opposed by Red Wings right-hander Anthony Swarzak, the Twins second-round pick in 2004.

The PawSox will have a club heavy with veterans and players with big-league experience, including 15 on the 24-man roster. That can only help Beyeler, he believes.

I hope it helps me a lot because we do have a lot of veteran leadership out there, Beyeler said. Im going to lean on those guys a lot to help me out, and batting coach Chili Davis and pitching coach Rich Sauveur and trainer Jon Jochim in the other room there to help these guys out.

The last thing I want to do is come in here and make guys uncomfortable and feel like theyre back in A ball again or something. I just want to stay out of the way and let them roll and let them do what they do here. Just get right into the realm of previous PawSox managers Torey Lovullo and Ron Johnson and the guys whove been here and keep things rolling. That, to me, is the best thing that can happen here.

Catcher Mike McKenry was acquired from Colorado for pitcher Daniel Turpen on March 29.

Very high-energy guy, Beyeler said. Blocks balls well. Above-average arm. Handles the pitching staff pretty good for a guy coming in that really doesnt know anybody. And swings the bat real good. Looks like hes a pretty strong kid. Seems to have a good idea of what hes doing. A pretty impressive kid.

Left-hander Felix Doubront, who was placed on the disabled list with March 31 with left forearm inflammation, remains in Fort Myers. Fla.

Outfielder Josh Reddick reported to McCoy Stadium Tuesday morning but was sick, with a possible strep infection, and was sent home. Driving to Pawtucket from Fort Myers, Reddick didnt feel well and stopped for medical attention.

Tip of the cap to Daniel Nava, who entertained onlookers before the PawSox workout Tuesday afternoon by borrowing a reporters tape recorder to interview his teammates. Have to admit, I wouldnt have thought to ask about singing with Enrique Iglesias (Jose Iglesias), hair care (Kyle Weiland), canoeing as an Olympic sport (Randy Williams, McKenry), or Fleetwood Mac vs. John Mayer (Aceves).

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays…

1) Toronto’s offense can never be taken lightly.

Coming into the series, the Blue Jays had scored 197 runs, putting them in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams and averaging four runs per game. In the two games against Boston, they’ve scored 17 runs.

So an offense that had appeared to be dormant has been woken up thanks to some subpar Red Sox pitching.

It seems like these two teams are very similar and could be in opposite positions just as easily. The Blue Jays are only three behind in the win column (five in the loss), so Boston needs to win David Price’s Sunday start to widen the gap and cut their three-game skid.

2) Craig Kimbrel is only effective for so long.

Boston’s closer wasn’t giving excuses following Saturday’s game -- and this isn’t one either.

Saturday’s 39-pitch performance wasn’t just his season-high, but his career high in pitches.

This not only resulted in a drop in Kimbrel’s velocity, but it exposed flaws in the Red Sox’ pen. Kimbrel is truly a one-inning guy, so if Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara can’t get him the ball, he’s useless.

And it seems like Uehara won’t be used on back-to-back days frequently in the near future, so Boston won’t be able to use Tazawa in a seventh inning role with much consistency.

Somewhere along the way Dave Dombrowski will need to find another reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.

3) Offense can only take a team so far.

Both teams had big offensive days, in large part because pitchers from both sides made a lot of mistakes -- but they still took advantage of them.

Had the Red Sox been the home team in this contest, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have won -- just based on the progression of the game and ignoring any statistical splits.

If the Red Sox are serious about making the postseason, they need pitching to pick up the slack once in a while. Because when they hit the road late in the year, games like will slip away when quality pitching is lacking.

Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

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Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays:
 
QUOTES
*“We’ve seen Hanley [Ramirez] catch that ball multiple times...An unfortunate situation at a key moment.” John Farrell said of the final play of the game.
 
*As soon as I let it go I thought he was out...I feel like that game kind of slipped away from us.” -Travis Shaw said of his throw in the final play of the game.
 
*“Everybody was so excited on the bench. We’d lost the lead and to have him come through in that situation . . . It was huge.” -Hanley Ramirez on David Ortiz’s go-ahead homerun in the ninth inning.
 
*“We’re a strike away on a number of occasions . . . you watch the attack plan all day long right-handers with curveballs were having success against [Justin] Smoak.” -Farrell said of the bullpen’s performance and Smoak’s ninth inning hit off Craig Kimbrel.
 
*“If he makes an accurate throw he’s out.” -Farrell on Christian Vazquez’s errant throw in the ninth inning.
 
*“In some key spots we gave an extra 90 feet when otherwise we have not of late.” -Farrell said about Boston’s inability to execute late in the game.

NOTES
*Xander Bogaerts has hit safely in his last 21 games, extending his streak with a home run to lead off the fourth inning. He’s hitting .402 with five home runs during the streak. Bogaerts logged his ninth three-hit game of 2016.
 
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to five games with his first-inning double. Pedroia has also hit safely in his past 22 games against Toronto. He’s hitting .444 during the short streak.
 
*David Ortiz extended his own hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth. He's hitting .520 over that span.
 
* Russell Martin logged his fifth multi-hit game of the season -- and first three-hit game -- smacking a double and a home run. Martin entered the game batting .179 with three extra-base hits.
 
 
STARS
1) Russell Martin

Not only did he score the winning run, but he also tied the score in the ninth and launched a home run earlier in the game.
 
2) Xander Bogaerts
Another threre-hit performance, extending his hitting streak to 21 games, Bogaerts keeps creating headaches for opposing pitchers.
 
3) Rick Porcello
On a day where pitchers from both side scuffled, Porcello’s 6 2/3-inning effort gave Boston more than enough of a chance to win. 

First impressions: Big trouble for Red Sox bullpen

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First impressions: Big trouble for Red Sox bullpen

First impressions of the Red Sox' 10-9 loss in Toronto:
 
Rick Porcello was back in top form.

Despite the matchup at the Rogers Center being less than favorable for Porcello, and the righty not at his best of late, he held a streaking, dangerous offense at bay for 6 2/3 innings (four runs, seven hits) before the bullpen coughed up two leads. 

While Porcello hasn’t performed poorly of late, there’s no question he hasn’t been at his best -- so it’s good to see him have a consistent feel for his pitches.

The bullpen might be in trouble Sunday.

With Junichi Tazawa struggling, Craig Kimbrel throwing a season high 39 pitches and Matt Barnes pitching in both games this series, the bullpen won’t be at it’s best for the final game in Toronto. So, if there were ever a time for David Price to throw like a true ace, Sunday would be it.

Tommy Layne proves again that he’s not trustworthy.

With a four-run lead, and only needing to get two batters out, Layne couldn't get an out in the eighth, allowing two runs on two hits and starting something not even Kimbrel (who gave up leads in the eighth and ninth after being called on for a five-out save) could stop. The lefty specialist may have entered the game with an ERA below 3.00, but his results are inconsistent.
 
Umpire Mike DiMuro’s injury changed the tone of the game.

The home plate umpire took a hard foul ball off the center of the mask, delaying the game for several minutes and forcing Brian Gorman to call the game behind the plate.

And with that came an inconsistent strike zone. Both sides were frustrated by his inconsistency with his zone. Porcello had two pitches stopped due to late timeout calls. Marcus Stroman was almost allowed to quick pitch Hanley Ramirez twice in the same at-bat.

The crew got it right removing DiMuro from the game, but Gorman was bad in relief.
 
David Ortiz getting doubled up in the fourth inning can’t happen.

Darwin Barney showed some range, getting to Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s soft line drive up the middle, flipping the ball to second quickly after to get Ortiz. This comes a night after Hanley Ramirez got double up off a screaming line drive.

There’s a difference between the two though. Ramirez had no time to react. Ortiz had all the time in the world. Even though Papi’s speed hasn’t become enhanced in his old age -- unlike his power -- that was a rally-killing play he could’ve prevented.
 
Don’t sleep on Dustin Pedroia.

Between Ortiz’s farewell tour and the youth rising, Dustin Pedroia continues to perform well under the radar.

He went 2-for-4, lacing two doubles off Toronto’s ace, Marcus Stroman. Pedroia is hitting .309. He’s not the only player being overlooked, but he’s definitely received the least amount of attention in Boston’s power-packed lineup.