BOSTON — Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz were a combined 12-0 and the Red Sox had won 14 of the two pitchers’ 17 starts combined as of May 15.
Since then Lester has a 7.20 ERA over six starts. Buchholz has made just three starts over the past 28 days and counting, suffering from irritation of the AC joint and now neck strain, which landed him on the disabled list yesterday.
And thus, while Lester and Buchholz led the Red Sox into first place in the AL East, it’s clear the back end of the rotation and Boston’s minor league depth starters must carry this team right now and keep them on top.
Another thing that’s surprisingly clear: GM Ben Cherington made the right call when he did not release Alfredo Aceves after the righty’s April 23 meltdown against Oakland but instead sent him to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Since Aceves’ demotion, he has made three spot starts for Boston, including one here yesterday. He has hurled 17.0 innings combined and allowed just three runs (one run in each outing).
Aceves hurled 5 strong innings yesterday. His start was cut short due to a rain delay or else he would have pitched into the sixth inning. Still, he earned the win in Game 1 of the Rays and Red Sox’ day/night doubleheader here at Fenway. Boston posted a 5-1 victory.
“He was around the plate often, got some early outs, was overall efficient,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Lefty Felix Doubront dazzled in Game 2. He hurled a career-high 8 innings, allowing no runs, three hits and no walks while striking out six. The Red Sox won 3-1 on a Jonny Gomes’ two-run walkoff homer in the ninth.
“Felix more than did his work,” Farrell said. “An outstanding effort on his part.”
This reporter wrote a column earlier this year urging Cherington to release Aceves because of the right-hander’s erratic behavior. But Aceves has been a faithful solider since late April, going back and forth from Pawtucket without complaining. And he’s pitched well when given opportunities.