DETROIT Alfredo Aceves had one reason to join the Red Sox, which he did as a free agent in February.
They have a huge, huge, huge opportunity to win the World Series, he said after Thursdays game in Detroit.
The Red Sox had one main reason to sign him.
We got him as a depth starter, said manager Terry Francona. He can certainly pitch out of the bullpen because he can pitch. But this was the main reason he was signed.
Whether or not the Sox win the World Series this year remains to be seen. But Aceves, in his last two outings, has given them what they were looking for: A chance to win when he pitches.
In his second start since Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey went on the disabled list, Aceves went six innings, giving up one run on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts to earn the win as the Sox pummeled the Tigers, 14-1. In his two fill-in starts he has gone a combined 11 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and five walks with six strikeouts.
With the win, improving to 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA. (He did not factor in the decision in his first start, May 21 against the Cubs. He left after the fifth with the Sox leading, 2-1, only to have the bullpen implode in the eighth for eight runs.)
He threw strikes. He changed speeds. I thought he followed catcher Jason Varitek real well, Francona said. Looked to me like he only shook him off one time, which to me, when 'Teks catching is always a good thing. And they were on the same page. His pitches are good slider, fastball, changeup. But I thought he followed Tek real well.
Aceves and Varitek appeared to be in sync better in this game, with the right-hander shaking off his catcher much less.
Hes real good, Aceves said of Varitek. Hes been in the league for . . . a long time. I trust him.
Aceves and Varitek are still getting used to each other.
It was much better and we were in a much better rhythm than the start against the Cubs, Varitek said. It helps the people behind you play better when that happens.
But theres a combo. Hes been successful for a reason because of his stuff, and today was a day that we took some steps in that learning process.
Making his seventh career start Thursday, Aceves was staked to a five-run lead after the second inning, cruising through his outing. The first time through the Tigers lineup, the most he fell behind was a two-ball count to Don Kelly in the first inning before striking out the Tigers No. 2 hitter on an 89-mph cutter.
The lone run he allowed came in the fourth inning. Aceves opened the inning hitting Brennan Boesch with a pitch. Miguel Cabrera followed that with a single before Victor Martinez grounded into a fielders choice, erasing Cabrera. After Jhonny Peralta popped out to Drew Sutton for the second out, Alex Avila singled to left, scoring Boesch.
Three of Aceves six strikeouts ended innings with runners on base.
Yeah, and with a lot of different pitches, Varitek said. And different tilts on his fastball. His curveball. We used his changeup. But he did a real god job today.
With the win, Aceves extended his streak major league-best streak of wins in his last 12 decisions. This was Aceves first win in that streak that came as a starter. His 11 wins as a reliever was the longest in the American League since Jesse Crain had 11 in a row for the Twins from Sept. 1, 2004 July 1, 2005.
Aceves is pleased with his two starts. But thats only part of it.
Im happy every day, he said. Im happy every day. If Im alive Im happy. Im going to start with that.
David Ortiz went 2-for-3, extending his hit streak to eight games. He is hitting .457 (16-for-35) in that stretch.
Jason Varitek went 1-for-5, extending his hit streak to six games. He is batting .318 (7-for-22) in that stretch. It is his longest streak since he hit in nine straight games from April 21May 4, 2006.
Before Crawfords two-triple game, Jacoby Ellsbury was the last Sox batter to do so, on June 23, 2009.
Before Crawfords back-to-back four-hit games, Dustin Pedroia was the last Sox player to do so, on Aug. 29 and 30, 2008.
Outfielder Daniel Nava cleared waivers and was out righted to Pawtucket.
Right-hander BobbyJenks, sidelined since May 2 because of a right biceps strain, isscheduled to throw an inning with about 20-25 pitches for PawtucketFriday in the game against Indianapolis at McCoy Stadium. If the outinggoes well, he will pitch another inning Sunday and is likely to beactivated early next week.
Lackey, on the DL since May 12 with a right elbowstrain, is scheduled to throw a simulated game Friday before his rehabstart with Pawtucket on Tuesday.
Matsuzaka, on the DL with a right elbow strain since May 17, isstill on schedule to see Dr. Lewis Yokum in Los Angeles on May 31 onhis way back from Japan, where he is for personalreasons.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen