BOSTON -- For the second time this season, rain marred a matchup at Fenway Park between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. This time, there was actually a final result, as the Sox endured a rain delay of nearly three hours before securing a 5-1 victory in the makeup of a game that was postponed by the wet stuff April 12.
Boston received five solid innings from Alfredo Aceves before the rain delay and three hits and three runs from Jacoby Ellsbury in improving to 8-2 this season against their American League East rivals. The Red Sox have won nine of their last 12 at home and will go for a sweep of the doubleheader, which was expected to begin at 8:05 p.m.
Better late than never: Manager John Farrell has discussed Aceves’ ability to adjust and perform in situations that might lack the usual structure. Tuesday may have offered up one of the all-time great examples of Alfredo being Alfredo, as the enigmatic righty nearly arrived too late to make his scheduled start before plowing through his pregame routine and performing quite admirably.
“Ace was delayed in traffic. He’s not a guy that reports to the clubhouse early to begin with and was a little delayed,” Farrell said. “But [he] had ample time to get loose inside, go out, throw his 25 pitches of warm up. Much like we talked about, the unstructured ability to perform.
“We were in communication with [Aceves] for the hour and a half prior to, and he was well aware of the start that was taking place today. He had Game 1. But as the delay continued, we were in contact with him and he was on his way in. So we were getting close, but he made it.”
Franklin Morales was buzzing around the bullpen as the team waited for Aceves, just in case he needed to warm up. Morales never began to throw.
Aceves showed signs of a rushed warm-up session when he walked three men in the second inning. However, he settled down and began to throw strikes. Aceves got a double play to end the second with just one run being scored, and allowed only two hits over his final three frames before the skies opened up.
The enigmatic righty is now 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his three fill-in starts over the past three weeks, surviving 10 walks against nine strikeouts in 17 innings.
“Once again, Alfredo comes in and does his thing,” Farrell added. “Five solid innings of work, would have been in line to go back out for the sixth had it not been interrupted by the rain. I think, most importantly, other than the three walks in that second inning, he was around the plate often, got some early outs, was overall efficient.”
Taking aim at Archer: With a leadoff double in the bottom of the first inning, Ellsbury improved to 5-for-5 against Rays starter Chris Archer. That was the only Red Sox hit until Ellsbury improved to 6-for-6 against Archer with a leadoff single in the third.
Ellsbury’s run against the young Tampa Bay right-hander ended in the fifth, but he had already recorded the ninth multi-hit effort in his last 16 games, and he added to his surge with his American League-leading seventh triple in the sixth off Josh Lueke. That left Ellsbury a home run shy of the cycle. The elusive blast never came, but Ellsbury is now hitting .371 (33-for-89) with 18 runs scored over his last 21 games.
Top heavy: Ellsbury’s effort spearheaded a productive showing for the top of the order. The first four hitters in the Red Sox lineup were 7-for-15 with all five RBIs and all five runs scored. The next five were 1-for-16 with eight strikeouts and left a bunch of runners on base.
Milestone watch: The Red Sox media relations team reserves a portion of its game notes to milestones. Tuesday’s version featured just one player, David Ortiz, who, as noted in the handout, entered the doubleheader needing five doubles to reach 500 for his career.
While Ortiz went without a two-base hit, he did drive in a pair of runs with a single in the third to leapfrog a pretty special player in Hall of Famer Johnny Bench on the all-time RBI list. Ortiz added another RBI, the 1,378th of his career, on a run-scoring base hit in the fifth to tie the immortal Lave Cross -- a 155-pounder from Milwaukee whose career ended in 1907 -- for 76th all-time.
Like peas in a pod, those two.
Buchholz update: Clay Buchholz was able to throw a quick bullpen session after the first game, which should clear the way for him to avoid the disabled list and start Saturday in Detroit. If Buchholz was unable to make the session, the club was prepared to DL him due to a lingering neck issue, but he seems to be on the right path.
Provided he came through with everything OK, Buchholz will throw a more intense bullpen session Thursday. Farrell will provide an update following the nightcap.
When I was a boy: Seeing the Sox and Rays play in a doubleheader at Fenway is reminiscent of some awkward days at the old ballpark back in April 2010. In the opener of a four-game set between the two rivals, rain halted a 1-1 game in the ninth. It was picked up the following day and Tampa Bay won in 12 innings before taking the “nightcap” and then the remaining two games of the series, the last on Patriot’s Day, to send Boston to a 4-9 record.
In looking back on the suspended situation, it’s worth nothing a few items. For one, closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was pitching for the Red Sox when the game was suspended, was unavailable when it was resumed because his wife had given birth overnight. Pat Burrell homered off Manny Delcarmen to win the suspended contest, and Ellsbury, who had collided with Adrian Beltre about a week earlier in Kansas City, told reporters that day he was on the verge of returning to the lineup.
It would be more than a month before Ellsbury got back in the lineup and that would last just three games before the rib injury sidelined him again until August, when he played in just nine more.
Up next: Felix Doubront toes the rubber opposite Rays rookie right-hander Jake Odorizzi in the nightcap. Doubront is still looking to complete seven innings this season. After four relievers ate up four innings in the first game, now would be a good time for the lefty to extend himself.