Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 6, Twins 5

April, 23, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS -- You can’t make this stuff up.

On the night Daniel Bard takes up temporary residence -- he hopes -- in the bullpen, of course the Red Sox and Twins take a 5-5 tie into the eighth inning.

And, of course, the reluctant reliever is summoned by manager Bobby Valentine with the go-ahead run 90 feet away with one out to face Twins cleanup hitter Josh Willingham, with former MVP Justin Morneau on deck.

And Bard stands tall on the barricades, stranding Jamey Carroll on third, which works wonders for Sox morale -- and the blood pressure of their fans -- but was counterintuitive to Bard's desire to remain in the rotation.

And for all the drama Bard's appearance entitled -- dodging a bullet when Willingham lined to third and retiring Ryan Doumit on a pop fly to Mike Aviles in short left-center field after an intentional walk to Morneau -- the game still wound up in the hands of Alfredo (Ace or Joker) Aceves.

Aceves, last seen failing to retire a single batter of a half-dozen Yankees he faced in Saturday’s 15-9 fiasco, was called upon by Valentine to close out the Twins after the second of two home runs by Cody Ross gave the Sox a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth.

It was just two weeks ago this night that Aceves had scrawled the word “Trust” on a piece of paper that he slipped to Valentine before a game in Toronto. Valentine had stuck with his beleguered closer then, after he had failed to retire any of the five batters he’d faced in a two-game span in Detroit, and he stuck with him again Monday night.

Blind faith? Not quite. Valentine was out of the dugout in a flash moments after Trevor Plouffe's bid for a winning, two-run home run died on the left-field warning track to personally deliver a message to Aceves, who still needed one more out before the Red Sox could exhale.

What was said will have to wait for exposition. In any event, Aceves went to a full count to Denard Span, with pinch-runner Clete Thomas poised to be off with the pitch. Span fouled off one pitch at the plate, then the next to the left.

The eighth pitch of the at-bat, Span swung and hit a one-hop comebacker to Aceves, who underhanded the ball to Adrian Gonzalez for the final out.

And thus Boston's five-game losing streak came to an end. Bard, a two-time loser as a starter, got the win in his first relief appearance. The save was the third of the season for Aceves.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia also had a two-run home run for the Sox.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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