Alfredo Aceves began the 2012 season with a big chip sitting firmly on his shoulder. Now, he's just "a man on a mission."
Aceves, one of about seven pitchers vying for Boston's final two starting jobs, was overlooked for a spot in the rotation and ended up unhappily in the bullpen.
A potential season-ending injury to expected closer Andrew Bailey and a meltdown by the other offseason acquisition Mark Melancon left Aceves to usurp the Red Sox closer's role and solidify the bullpen — a job he appeared to fail at the start.
Blowing two of his first four save opportunities to start the season, Aceves' ERA ballooned to an obscenely high 24.00 by just April 21. Things didn't look so hot.
But Aceves has turned things around of late and his showing in extra innings on Friday night proved that he's just the man to steady this bullpen after all.
Following four straight scoreless outings over the past week and a half, Aceves allowed just two hits and struck out six in 2 2/3 innings against the Orioles on Friday. The performance was enough to prove that he is in fact the man for the job.
The Red Sox still have plenty of questions surrounding their pitching staff, especially given Aaron Cook's imminent start on Saturday afternoon. But while the starting rotation continues to be fleshed out and new faces continue to appear on the roster — Daisuke Matsuzaka could find himself fit for a return in but a few weeks — Aceves is continually asserting himself as a dependable mainstay.
There's plenty of baseball left to be played, but it appears that if the cards hold true to their current form, Aceves will be closing out Boston victories well into September. As he should!
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