Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves is on a roll, having converted nine straight save chances. And they haven’t all been easy: in the last week, he has three save of four outs.
That may not look overly significant at first glance, but Aceves is the only reliever with multiple saves of more than three outs this season. In all, there have been 16 saves of more than one inning. Four of those were of the three-inning variety in games that were blowouts. Just seven of the saves took place in games that were decided by three runs or fewer, and Aceves has three of them.
Today, Aceves entered a 6-5 game against the Orioles with the tying run on second and struck out Nick Johnson, who had homered twice, to end the eighth. He then pitched a perfect ninth.
Of course, Aceves is used to the heavier workload and is probably better conditioned than any other closer to get saves of four-to-six outs. Credit should go to Bobby Valentine for realizing that and not saving him for the ninth in games when he’s needed earlier.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.