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Red Sox still searching for some consistency from Alfredo Aceves

04.24.13 at 12:42 am ET
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Alfredo Aceves allowed eight runs in his latest outing on Tuesday night. (AP)

In search of the old Alfredo Aceves.

It’s what the Red Sox continue to strive for – consistently uncovering the pitcher that had made such a positive mark day in, day out backing 2011. Unfortunately for the Sox, that version of Aceves continues to come and go with no rhyme or reason.

The latest example of how much of a conundrum the righty has become came Tuesday night, when Aceves suffered through an eight-run, 3 1/3-inning outing in what ended up as the A’s 13-0, seven-inning win over the Sox.

This after admirably filling in for John Lackey with a five-inning, three-run outing against the Indians in his last start. And before that, he allowed just two runs over five frames in his start vs. the Orioles.

“It’s varied, I will say that,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell off Aceves’ results. “He’s healthy. He’s got the ability to manipulate the baseball, as we’ve seen. You’d like to think that there would be or a known commodity in a given role, particularly in a starting role, when you’ve got five days to prepare for the next outing. His preparation today was consistent with what it was prior to the game in Cleveland. Tonight wasn’t one of his better performances.”

Aceves has made no secret that he prefers starting and wants to find a way to fill that role. (Although he most likely will now be taken out of the rotation with Lackey trending toward making a return Sunday.)

But the reality is that Aceves hasn’t been able to prove his worth on a consistent basis in the role since joining the Red Sox, totaling a 6.29 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of 2011.

Perhaps even more disconcerting is Aceves’ overall performance over the past two seasons. During that span, the pitcher has gone 3-11 with a 5.93 ERA in 101 2/3 innings. Opponents have managed a .269 batting average and .807 OPS against him.

Since last Aug. 1, Aceves has pitched in 25 games while managing a 8.51 ERA, with the Red Sox going 6-19 during the stretch of appearances.

“I don’t know if I’d go into the effort level,” Farrell said. “There seemed to be a lack of focus given the way Alfredo has pitched this year for us, and in particular his last outing in Cleveland. It wasn’t a good night.”

This time around, Aceves reported he was having trouble with both the mound — thanks to a hole dug by Oakland starter Bartolo Colon — and the strike zone of home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.

“If the strike zone gets small, out of your hand, you have no confidence to throw the ball in the middle because you’re going to get hacked,” he said. “It’s the big leagues. It is what it is. You have to adapt to it to get a better result for your team. That’s my main point.”

And as for the hole dug by Colon, Aceves said: “It was not the same mound. He was digging a hole. Colon had his hole in there. I don’t want to step in his hole. That’s it. That was screwing up in my heel. That’s the little things that you keep in your mind. I was trying to put myself and the team in the best position to have success.”

Craig Breslow was back in the Red Sox clubhouse after arriving from his rehab appearance with Double-A Portland at Hadlock Field. (He said the temperature dropped 11 degrees during his trip down I-95.)

The lefty explained his disappointment after not retiring a batter in his 23-pitch outing, giving up three runs on three hits while walking a batter.

“I felt good. I’m not one of those people who just dismiss the results, like it was rehab and I got my work in,” Breslow said. “I definitely need to be better. But it was definitely a step forward.

“I wasn’t really able to throw anything but a fastball for a strike. In the ‘pen I felt really good. I was comfortable. I was throwing the ball really well. But I think when I got in the game I was trying to do a little more and lost a little bit of the feel. Obviously at any level when you eliminate anything but a fastball you’re not going to be in a good place.”

Breslow will remain with the Red Sox for the next few days with an eye on making another rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket, perhaps Saturday.

“It as awful, but again … it’s probably a good sign at this point I’m thinking about how the results went rather than how I feel,” he said. “At the same time, the results have to get better pretty quickly.”

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