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.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.