ANAHEIM, Calif. — Bobby Valentine didn’t have much of a bullpen available to him on Tuesday night.
Andrew Bailey had pitched in four of the previous five games. So had Vicente Padilla. Mark Melancon had appeared in four of the previous six games. Junichi Tazawa was in three of the last six.
So once Clay Buchholz was finished with seven innings and left with a 5-4 lead, Valentine turned to Alfredo Aceves for a six-out save.
Aceves has not had a six-out save this season but has gone at least two innings five times this season.
The alternative was one of the lefties, Andrew Miller or Craig Breslow. But the Angels had two switch hitters and then a long line of righthanded hitters coming up.
“Wasn’t much choice,” said Valentine, who drummed his fingers on his desk as he took questions after the game.
Aceves certainly was well-rested. When Bailey closed out a game against the Royals, Aceves tore off his uniform in the bullpen and then confronted Valentine about why he didn’t. That earned him a three-game suspension.
Valentine and Aceves talked it over on Tuesday before the game and all seemed well. Aceves had a quick eighth inning and got the first out in the ninth. Then he hit Erick Aybar in the back foot with a curveball.
As so often is the case, Aceves quickly became unraveled and fell behind pinch hitter Alberto Callaspo as catcher Ryan Lavarnway made several trips to the mound to try to settle his pitcher down. After Aybar stole second on a 3-0 pitch, Callaspo walked.
Mike Trout was next. They worked him inside and got ahead 0-and-2. The third pitch had to be somewhere Trout couldn’t hit it, that’s a cardinal rule. But it was close enough for Trout to muscle it into center field despite breaking his bat. Aybar scored and Callaspo went to third.
“Too much [of the plate],” Valentine said.
Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly won it from there.
Aceves would not speak to reporters after the game, putting his phone to his ear and walking by. He then walked to the team bus through the outfield, the only player to take that route.
Aceves is 2-9 with a 4.76 ERA and has blown eight saves now. In his last 11.1 innings, Aceves has allowed 13 runs on 14 hits. Bailey is surely the closer now and Valentine made sure to let reporters know that.
“I’m not saying that was his role tonight — for a save. He was the only guy available to pitch,” the manager said.
Valentine got Junichi Tazawa up in the ninth, but too late to replace Aceves. Given how erratic Aceves is, somebody should have been up at the start of the inning.
The Sox have been walked-off six times and are 13-17 in one-run games. On a night when they scored five runs against Jered Weaver on the road, they lost.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are 1-3 since picking up all those Red Sox as they lost again tonight in Colorado. The stink travels, it seems.