Alfredo Aceves was suspended for three games Aug. 25 for what the Red Sox said was conduct detrimental to the team.
After not being used as the closer the night before, the righthander tore off his uniform in the bullpen and angrily confronted manager Bobby Valentine in his office.
A week later Aceves and teammate Dustin Pedroia had to be separated in the dugout in Oakland after the pitcher repeatedly tried pickoff throws with the second baseman out of position.
That was followed by another incident on Sept. 12. This time Aceves snubbed Valentine in public, refusing to give him the ball when he was taken out of the game before leaving the mound in a roundabout fashion.
Aceves also had frustrated his catchers along the way by repeatedly shaking off signs and calling them out to the mound for what have been described as nonsensical conversations.
The latest chapter in what could lead to his departure from the team came Saturday at Fenway Park.
Aceves spoiled a comeback by the ragtag Sox, allowing three runs in the 12th inning that gave the Baltimore Orioles a 9-6 victory.
Aceves left the park within a few minutes of the last pitch and was not available for comment. Valentine shrugged when asked if Aceves’s pitching has been affected by the recent events.
“I have no idea,” he said. “He wasn’t pitching very well before that.”
Aceves has given up 25 earned runs on 29 hits and 11 walks in 25 innings dating to Aug. 2. He has appeared in nine games since his suspension and allowed at least one run in six of those.
The Sox have lost the last 11 games Aceves has pitched in. The last three appearances — nine earned runs on nine hits over 3⅔ innings — have been particularly bad.
“It’s kind of like a box of chocolates right now,” Valentine said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
Aceves looked like a find for the Sox last season, appearing in 55 games and pitching to a 2.61 ERA. Signed just before spring training at a discount after being released by the Yankees, Aceves was more quirky than controversial.
He became the closer this season when Andrew Bailey had thumb surgery on the eve of the season and pitched fairly well for four months. But now Aceves has no discernible role and perhaps no future in Boston.
His performance Saturday snuffed out a determined rally by the Sox. Trailing, 6-3, they scored two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth on doubles by Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik.
Rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway had two RBIs and Triple A callup Danny Valencia a two-run homer.
Clayton Mortensen, Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, Andrew Bailey, and Mark Melancon retired 13 straight Orioles from the end of the seventh inning through the 11th. Six were by strikeout.
“We’re paid to do a job,” Melancon said. “I think we all have some pride.”
But once Aceves (2-10) came in, that streak ended.
Adam Jones doubled to left-center and scored on a one-out double by 42-year-old Jim Thome, who hadn’t played since July 27 because of a neck injury.
Thome drove a high fastball to right, the ball hopping into the stands. Endy Chavez’s single to center scored pinch runner Xavier Avery.
“I was fortunate, the ball was on the plate. It was a big hit,” Thome said.
“Obviously these guys have been playing very well and to come in and get a big hit like that is big.”
Jim Johnson handled the bottom of the inning for his 47th save.
The Orioles have won 16 consecutive extra-inning games, the longest streak in the majors since 1949. They are 9-1 in games going 12 innings or more.
“I’m tired of playing extra-inning games to be honest with you, but we’re not quitting until that last out,” Jones said. “If we need 14, 15, up to 18 innings to do the job, then that’s what we will do.”
The Red Sox are 2-9 in extras, a numbing 0-7 at home. No team since the 1964 Kansas City A’s has done that.
Baltimore has won six straight and nine of 11 but remains a game behind the Yankees in the AL East after New York’s 10-9 victory against Oakland in 14 innings.
The Orioles are 7-1 at Fenway this season with one final game on Sunday.
Then again, that’s not unusual this season. The Sox are 33-45 at home, their most losses at Fenway since 1980.
As the last out was made, the many Baltimore fans on hand were chanting “Let’s Go O’s.” They, at least, enjoyed the day.