- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Trevor Plouffe's bid for a game-winning, two-run home run had barely settled into left fielder Cody Ross's glove when Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine shot out of the dugout to visit closer Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning Monday night.
Valentine's message to Aceves was delivered with a smile, but probably paralleled the one being screamed at TVs and radios throughout New England.
"I asked him if he was trying to kill me," Valentine said. "What else would you say in a situation like that?"
"Yeah, that's exactly what I said, with a smile," Valentine said. "He was a little too tense out there."
The gist of the conversation was confirmed by shortstop Mike Aviles -- once he was told that Valentine was the source.
"Yeah, he did," Aviles said, almost giggling at the thought. "It was all just fun. Kind of lightened the mood. Even Ace gave it a smile. We all laughed, and he was able to get back and make his pitches."
After Valentine cracked wise, Aceves got down to the business of ending the game, an eight-pitch duel with Minnesota Twins leadoff man Denard Span that ended with Aceves gloving a comebacker and flipping it underhanded to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the final out of a 6-5 Boston win.
For the first time in a week, music was heard in the Red Sox clubhouse after the game. The team's five-game losing streak was over, although Aceves, who couldn't get anyone out Saturday when six straight Yankees reached base safely against him in a 15-9 fiasco, was no help in recalling what he did to save this one for Daniel Bard, the accidental reliever whose turn in the rotation was skipped because of a Sunday rainout.
Bard was converted to a starter this season after excelling as a set-up man for the Red Sox, but there have been calls to return him to the bullpen as Boston relievers, including Aceves, have struggled mightily.
"Now I just forget what I did, what happened," said Aceves, who had no interest in discussing his in-game chat with Valentine. "I forget what happened. Honestly, I forget what happened."
But what was his reaction to Valentine's joke?
"No, no, no, no, no, no, buddy, no," Aceves said.
"First of all, I want to thank God we're healthy. Besides that, we can control what we have in our hands."
It was two weeks ago Monday night that Aceves had slipped a piece of paper to Valentine that had the word "Trust" written on it after he blew a save at Detroit.
Valentine had the option of keeping Bard in the game after he stranded the potential go-ahead run on third in the eighth. Bard relieved Franklin Morales with one out and Jamey Carroll on third. Carroll reached on what was scored a single and two-base error by right fielder Ryan Sweeney.
Why the summons for Aceves?
"I had a guy down there who's going to have to save a lot of games for us," Valentine said. "And I thought Daniel did his job and Alfredo did his."
1dJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick