DETROIT — A local radio guy asked Terry Francona how he felt about being in first place after the Sox pounded the Tigers 14-1 today. He said he didn't care.
“We’re playing better baseball. That’s what we’re worried about,” the skipper said after giving the guy a withering look.
Give Francona credit for consistency. He didn't panic when his team was 2-10 and he's not celebrating now that they're tied with the Yankees atop the division. The players follow his lead in that regard.
Carl Crawford was happy, that much was evident. He is 8 for 9 the last two days with two doubles, two triples and a home run. In a span of 48 hours, Crawford raised his batting average from .215 to .244 and his OPS from .520 to .645.
“Just going up there feeling a little bit more comfortable at the plate, trying to get my pitch to hit and not missing it when I do get a chance,” he said. “It feels real good, just to be able to hit the ball and be yourself. I haven’t felt that way in a long time. To have that feeling back felt great.”
Then there's Alfredo Aceves, who tossed a career-high 98 pitches today. He allowed one run over six innings. Since replacing Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation, he has allowed two runs in 11 innings.
To some, Aceves may seem like an overnight sensation given that this is first season in Boston.
But Aceves, 28, has been around. He first signed with the Blue Jays when he was 19 then spent five seasons in the Mexican League before being signed by the Yankees. After three seasons in New York, he landed in Boston.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s not only two starts. I’ve been working in baseball for 11 years,” he said. “It’s not only two starts. You can see it like that; I don’t see it like that.”
Aceves is 16-1 with a 3.03 ERA in parts of four seasons in the majors. The Red Sox signed him hoping he would be ready when a rotation spot came open, as invariably happens.
“You never know what’s going to happen. It has kind of come to fruition. He can pitch and fortunately he’s stretched out enough that he can stay out there and give us two in a row now. That’s important,” Francona said.
Two games, 28 runs. Three wins in a row, 11 of the last 13 and 14 of the last 18. These are good times for the Sox.
Tim Wakefield against Rick Porcello tomorrow night. Stay tuned, it's only going to get more interesting from here.