Unfortunately, there was a little too much assistance in a 5-4 loss to the Padres on Tuesday night.
The aid first came in the form of a stomach bug that knocked Josh Beckett from his scheduled start. So, while he stayed home and wrangled with whatever is working its way through the clubhouse, Alfredo Aceves prepared for his fourth start of the year — this one on extremely short notice.
Perhaps that is why it took him three innings to get right.
"No. You just gotta do it," Aceves said when asked if it was enough time to properly prepare for the start. "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."
He did that in fanning two in the first, but lost all semblance of control in the second.
After getting the first two batters of the inning and working a two-strike count to the third, Aceves threw 14 out of 15 pitches outside the zone, walking four straight in the process, to give San Diego a run. He then lost a lengthy battle with Chase Headley and walked a fifth straight man, putting the Pads on top for the first time, 2-1.
Two more runs would come off Aceves in the third before he lasted two more innings to at least keep the club in the game.
For that, his team was grateful, although it knew that a tone was set in the second.
"After that, he came back and actually threw the ball pretty well and put up some zeroes," said manager Terry Francona. "His stuff was fine but he lost the plate and it hurt."
"We needed him to go five innings," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "It's tough for him coming out
of the bullpen, starting and then going to the bullpen role. So, it's tough, but Ace is always ready to come in there and pitch. Just had that one bad inning of control."
Still, with an offense like the one Boston has been showcasing for weeks, there was ample time and ample opportunity to chip away. The Red Sox ended up with 13 hits, six more than the Padres, and drew five walks. But in their giving mood, they grounded into two double plays, one of which was smoked by Adrian Gonzalez back to the pitcher, and left 11 men on base.
Boston was 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position and just 1-for-8 over the last five-plus innings.
That helped San Diego set things up in one of the only ways this weak-hitting bunch can to win games -– utilize its outstanding bullpen with the lead. Chad Qualls, Mike Adams and Heath Bell combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings, making an Anthony Rizzo tie-breaking RBI groundout in the top of the seventh hold up.
A handful of wasted scoring chances, an unfathomable run of control issues and a fruitless effort against one of the better bullpens around — that's how the Red Sox fell for just the third time in 17 games.
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