Alfredo Aceves' bloody finger might not rival Curt Schilling's bloody sock, but the versatile righthander showed some grit by overcoming a blister and momentum to give the Red Sox four solid innings of relief in their 9-8, 14-inning win over the Athletics on Saturday.
Aceves wasn't exactly lights out in picking up the win, but it's performances like Saturday's that remind us just how valuable he is to the team.
With the bullpen working 4 1/3 innings on Friday night and a potential marathon game on his hands, Red Sox manager Terry Francona needed someone to give the team multiple innings out of the bullpen, and Aceves answered the call — providing the latest instance of him filling whatever role is asked of him.
Aceves began the season in the bullpen, pitching primarily in long relief. But with John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka both making trips to the disabled list, Aceves was called upon to make three starts. Francona has since sent the righty back to the bullpen, where his ability to give the Sox two-plus innings on any given night is a major asset.
His stat line from Saturday is somewhat average at first glance. He allowed one run on three hits, striking out two and walking two, and he nearly suffered the loss after allowing a run in the 11th inning. But once Jacoby Ellsbury doubled with two outs in the bottom of the frame to tie the score at eight and give the Red Sox new life, Aceves proceeded to keep the A's offense in check.
He retired the side in order in the 12th and again in the 13th, and even after a blister on his throwing hand popped, Aceves returned to the mound to pitch the 14th inning. Despite the bloody finger, he worked his way out of a minor jam, giving the Red Sox an opportunity to win on J.D. Drew's walk-off hit in the bottom of the inning.
Aceves was credited with the win, bringing his season record to 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
The numbers are good, but not eye-popping. In fact, nothing really is about Aceves' appearances. But he takes the ball when asked, and with the exception of his last outing — in which he allowed six runs over five innings — the results have been good. He's given the Red Sox what they need when they need it, which is all anyone can ask for.
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