With the Boston Red Sox sitting at 44-29 and holding the best record in the American League, you would be led to believe that they’re following the usual recipe for a winning franchise: get behind your stars and don’t get hurt. But this is not how the Red Sox are doing it this year.
The Red Sox started two of their least desirable pitching options in Tuesday’s double header against the Tampa Bay Rays. Alfredo Aceves was called up from Pawtucket to fill in the for the injured horse of the staff, Clay Buchholz. With the tumultuous Felix Doubront taking the mound in the nightcap, I could already picture the Red Sox losing both games as well as their grip on the AL East.
But as has been the case all season from this bunch, the Red Sox got contributions from the places they’d least likely expect it. Aceves was pitching in a spot start for the third time this season, and for the third time he delivered. The feisty righty went five innings, and gave up only one run on three hits. He was supported by another vintage David Ortiz performance, whose three RBI was all the Red Sox would need in a 5-1 victory.
It’s amazing how well Aceves has pitched in these situations, knowing that he will immediately be sent down to Pawtucket afterwards. Maybe he likes the weather down I-95 south? If this is the motivation he needs to pitch well, then I hope the Red Sox keep doing what they’re doing.
Doubront was nothing short of masterful in the second game. He pitched eight shutout innings, striking out six and allowing just three hits. Despite walking no one, he was pulled by manager John Farrell in favor of Andrew Bailey in the ninth. The adventures of Bailey continued as he allowed an earned run, but the Sox still held on for the 3-1 victory.
The baseball season is a long and grueling one. Injuries like the ones that have occurred to Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Buchholz, Bailey, Joel Hanrahan and Ortiz are inevitable. The fact that the Red Sox keep winning in spite of these key losses tells us about the team’s mental character. When one guy goes down, someone else steps up to get the job done.