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Clay Buchholz did not have the sort of start you'd hope for from the #3 starter--one who has to be good this year if the Red Sox are to stand a chance. Struggling with command of both his fastball and changeup, Buchholz gave up a bases-clearing double to Jhonny Peralta as part of a four-run first inning, and then another run in the second after hitting Ryan Raburn to lead off the inning.
The Sox would show some fight in the early innings for once, however, and quickly found themselves back in the game. Mike Aviles brought home a pair in the second, and a big five-run third both chased Max Scherzer from the game and gave Boston their first lead of the season.
Unfortunately, Clay Buchholz would not be able to hold on for long, and by the fifth Vicente Padilla was on the mound in a tie game. From Padilla the Sox received their best pitching performance of the night--four huge scoreless innings that allowed them to take a 9-7 lead when Adrian Gonzalez launched a two-run shot in the sixth. They would add a tenth run utilizing some small ball in the ninth.
With Padilla out of the game, however, the Tigers wasted no time in ruining Alfredo Aceves' first save opportunity. Austin Jackson led off with a single, Brennan Boesch kept things going with an infield hit, and Miguel Cabrera finished it off by taking a wheelhouse fastball and depositing it very deep into the left field stands. Just like that, the game was tied.
Franklin Morales would keep the Sox alive into the eleventh, where the Sox received offense from the unlikeliest of places. A leadoff walk from Cody Ross helped Mike Aviles reach when Ross cleared a hole in the infield by taking off for second. Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not bring the run home from third with zero outs, but Nick Punto managed a go-ahead bloop single, and Dustin Pedroia tacked on another to make it 12-10.
And then...disaster struck again. Mark Melancon came in to finish the game, and did so in the wrong way. While Brennan Boesch proved a quick out, Miguel Cabrera lined into right field and Prince Fielder managed to chop one into a vacated left side of the infield for a single. Cabrera managed to score on a sacrifice fly, but the death blow would come from Alex Avila who, with two strikes, managed to just barely clear the wall in right field, giving the Tigers their second walkoff victory of the series, and sending the Sox to 0-3 for the second straight year.
Where are the outs?: The only question that needs to be asked for this Red Sox team is where are the outs going to come from? Vicente Padilla managed to record twelve, Franklin Morales managed six, and nobody else could manage anything without putting run after run on the board. Alfredo Aceves has recorded zero outs in two appearances, Mark Melancon has all of two recorded despite facing some eight baserunners, and the likes of Justin Thomas and Michael Bowden hardly seem like answers.
The Sox scored 12 runs tonight, and lost the game. It's just unbelievable.
After a heartbreaker on Thursday and a disaster Saturday, the Red Sox are still looking for their first win of the year. They'll turn to Clay Buchholz and an unusual lineup Sunday in the pursuit of that elusive victory.
If there was a start the Red Sox needed to allay the fears built by their terrible September collapse and a quiet offseason, they have gone in the exact opposite direction. Already the bullpen is in question, Josh Beckett is looking like he's ready to fall back to his even-year difficulties, and the lineup has two runs in as many games.
It's not that surprising, then, that Bobby Valentine opted for a shakeup in the order, but the way he's gone about it? That's another story. Nick Punto batting first goes against baseball wisdom both conventional and not, while both Kelly Shoppach and Darnell McDonald are both playing against a righty when their value comes almost exclusively against lefties. It doesn't help that Jarrod Saltalamacchia was actually swinging a pretty hot bat.
Of course, on any given day the Pirates can beat the World Series champions, so there's reason for hope yet. We'll keep you up-to-date as the Sox aim for 1-2.
Red Sox 12, Tigers 10, Mid 11th - Once again, the Sox are just a few outs from victory, as a hit-and-run and a bloop helped the weakest part of the Red Sox' lineup score what could be the biggest run of the game.
The inning started with a lot of promise for the Sox, as Cody Ross drew a leadoff walk and moved to third when a hit-and-run opened a hole in the infield for Mike Aviles.
Bobby Valentine would make the move to get Kelly Shoppach out of the game against the right-handed Joaquin Benoit for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The move made sense, but it did not provide dividends, as Salty took some bad swings and went down with a strikeout. That left it up to Nick Punto to get the run in while it could still be done with an out, and for a while, it didn't look like he would. Falling behind 1-2, Punto would work the count even and then come up with one big bloop. Sometimes, however, it's better to be lucky than good, and with the ball falling in front of Ryan Raburn in left for an RBI single, this was one of those cases.
The Sox wouldn't stop there, however. While Jacoby Ellsbury just missed extra bases and ended up striking out, Dustin Pedroia managed to find the outfield for an RBI single to make it 12-10. Unforunately, Adrian Gonzalez couldn't extend the lead, but for now the Sox will take what they can get.
Red Sox 10, Tigers 10, End 10th - Franklin Morales has kept the Sox alive for another inning, working around a one-out single with strikeouts to Jhonny Peralta and Austin Jackson.
The problem is that the Sox will now face Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder in the eleventh. Not an exciting prospect.
Red Sox 10, TIgers 10, Mid 10th - The Red Sox managed a leadoff walk off the bat of Dustin Pedroia, but could muster nothing else. Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz both got underneath pitches for fly ball outs, and Darnell McDonald struck out to end the inning.
Even if the Sox get through the bottom half of the inning, they'll have the worst part of their lineup for the eleventh while the Tigers will have the top of the order.
Red Sox 10, Tigers 10, End 9th - It's hard to believe it, but the Red Sox and Tigers...are tied.
Snatching (possible) defeat from the jaws of victory, Alfredo Aceves came out for his first save situation and completely blew it. Austin Jackson lined a single into the outfield, Brennan Boesch ran out an infield single, and then with his first pitch to Miguel Cabrera, Aceves served up a middle-in fastball that Cabrera couldn't help but take out of the park.
Franklin Morales managed to finish up the inning to send the two teams into the tenth, but this is a pretty crushing blow to the Red Sox. With Aceves still sporting an undefined ERA through two appearances--which is to say, having recorded not a single out--it's hard to imagine he's got much time left as the closer.
Red Sox 10, Tigers 7, Mid 9th - The Sox just added the flukiest of all runs in the ninth inning with two pop-ups and an infield single.
Darnell McDonald and Cody Ross (in for Ryan Sweeney) each reached when their pop-ups dropped in for hits. While McDonald's was routine, Ross' was less so, with both Prince Fielder and Ryan Raburn chasing it into foul territory before it came back across the line for the single.
With Mike Aviles at the plate, Bobby Valentine made the questionable decision to call for a sacrifice bunt. Aviles, for the record, has a .812 OPS in his career against lefties, and Kelly Shoppach and Nick Punto were scheduled to follow him. With Jim Leyland calling for a righty against Shoppach, the backup catcher predictably could not produce. Nick Punto, however, would come through, with his ground ball winding up just deep enough in the hole for Jhonny Peralta's throw to come late to first.
The Red Sox are just three outs away from their first win, but they'll have to come against the top of the lineup.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, End 8th - Vicente Padilla wasn't done, apparently, and came back out for three more outs. The first was of some note, as Dustin Pedroia went diving to the ground to snag a hard-hit grounder that looked destined for the outfield. Other than that, however, it was more easy stuff for Padilla, who has now thrown 51 pitches in the game.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, Mid 8th - The Sox waste an opportunity thanks to some bad baserunning by Nick Punto. After the "spark plug" got on base for the first time with a leadoff double and moved to third on a ground ball, he was caught in a rundown when Pedroia grounded to third. It would prove a costly mistake when the first pitch to Adrian Gonzalez from Phil Coke went behind Gonzalez to the backstop.
Meanwhile, Warnings have been handed out when Coke's second pitch caught Adrian square in the back. The only reason I can see that he's not being tossed from the game is because it makes so little sense to be throwing at Adrian. The Tigers have dominated the series through the first two games, Gonzalez didn't appear to show up the Tigers with his homer, and it's not like he was piling on--it's a close game, and his shot gave the Sox the lead.
Hopefully the Sox won't retaliate in a situation like this.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, End 7th - Vicente Padilla may have just calmed a thousand beat writers today, finishing his third scoreless inning against the strongest part of the Tigers' offense despite having Nick Punto whiff on a ground ball off the bat of Delmon Young. Prince Fielder gave one a ride, but couldn't even get it to the track, while Miguel Cabrera grounded out nice-and-easy for the first out.
The Sox are six outs away from their first win of the season.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, Mid 7th - A very quick inning for the bottom of the Red Sox' lineup, with Ryan Sweeney, Mike Aviles, and Kelly Shoppach going down in order. That sets up the top for the next inning, which is big because--oh, no, wait, Nick Punto. Never mind.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, End 6th - Vicente Padilla keeps the Red Sox on top for another inning, and did so in impressive fashion. After allowing a leadoff baserunner, Padilla would strike out Ryan Raburn on three pitches, get Austin Jackson swinging on a 2-2 sinker, and then sit down Brennan Boesch on a slider. The Sox will face the biggest challenge in the seventh, however, as Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder step to the plate.
Red Sox 9, Tigers 7, Mid 6th - It had been a long time since Adrian Gonzalez last took a ball out of the park--he went all spring without a homer, after all. But the wait is finally over for the big-hitting first baseman, who welcomed Daniel Schlereth to the game by taking his first pitch--a high-inside fastball--and depositing it well into the stands in center field. With Jacoby Ellsbury having reached to start the inning, the long ball went for two runs, giving the Sox a 9-7 lead.
The Tigers can't seem to avoid hard contact in general right now, as even the outs from Dustin Pedroia and Darnell McDonald threatened to do some damage. Hopefully Vicente Padilla can keep things held down in the sixth so the Sox have the chance to build in the seventh.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 7, End 5th - Vicente Padilla brings some stability to the Red Sox in relief of Clay Buchholz. Three batters up, three batters down, and one by way of the strikeout. Padilla has even flashed the Eephus, which is a sure sign of great things happening.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 7, Mid 5th - Nick Punto is now 0-for-3 with the shallowest sacrifice fly in baseball history. Spark plug! That is all.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 7, End 4th - Well, so much for the lead. Clay Buchholz once again found himself in early trouble, and could not escape the inning before allowing the Tigers to tie things up.
All things considered, it could have been worse, given that Ryan Raburn and Austin Jackson led the inning off with nearly identical line drives to left field on fastballs. Brennan Boesch would bring the Tigers within a run on a single of his own, bringing up Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with no outs and two men on.
You can see how it could have been worse?
Luckily, Clay Was able to avoid damage from the two most difficult outs in the lineup. Cabrera would ground into a double play, the Sox opting to take two outs as they let the run score from third, and Prince Fielder would follow suit with an easy ground ball to short to end the inning.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 5, Mid 4th - The bullpen provides a calming influence for the Tigers, holding the Red Sox to a quiet fourth after a very loud third. Only David Ortiz was able to reach base, going to the opposite field for a single before Darnell McDonald flew out and Ryan Sweeney grounded out to end the inning.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 5, End 3rd - The Red Sox...held the lead?
The Red Sox held the lead!
It wasn't a completely clean inning from Clay Buchholz, who walked Alex Avila and seems to be laboring through the game in general. But with a couple ground outs and a fly ball, he managed to escape the third without allowing any runs in for the first time today, and is still in the game come the fourth.
That's more than Scherzer can claim.
Red Sox 7, Tigers 5, Mid 3rd - The Red Sox...have a lead?
The Red Sox have a lead!
The Sox are on top for the first time this season, nickle-and-diming their way through the lineup for five runs off of Max Scherzer in the third. Adrian Gonzalez led off with a ringing single on a high fastball to right field, and then motored home as David Ortiz doubled all the way to the wall on the second pitch he saw.
After Darnell McDonald struck out, Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles would keep the rally chugging with a single up the middle and into left respectively, scoring David Ortiz in the process. Despite falling behind 0-2, Kelly Shoppach would reach too, as Scherzer again plunked the #9 hitter, loading the bases for Nick Punto.
It's hard to really say that Bobby Valentine's mad gambit has paid off yet, as Punto proceeded to pop the ball into shallow center, but Ryan Sweeney did manage to make something out of it, racing home and scoring to tie the game as Alex Avila failed to handle Austin Jackson's throw in the dirt. Another run would score when Max Scherzer was called for a balk, but it likely didn't matter, as Jacoby Ellsbury worked a 2-2 count and then shot a fastball past Jhonny Peralta and into left for an RBI single, chasing Scherzer from the game with seven runs to his name.
Red Sox 2, Tigers 5, End 2nd - Just when the Red Sox showed some life, Clay can't keep the Tigers from pulling away again.
Leading off the inning with a hit batsman and an infield single, Buchholz needed everything to go right to avoid damage in the inning. Instead, he had the lead runner scamper to third when Aviles tried to fire to first on the single, making Miguel Cabrera's fly ball enough to bring the run home, even when Jacoby Ellsbury made a diving grab to save another hit.
Red Sox 2, Tigers 4, Mid 2nd - The Red Sox are back in the game, but ultimately let a chance to possibly go ahead go by the wayside in the second.
David Ortiz got the Sox off to a good start by beating the shift with a hard hit ground ball off of Max Scherzer and Darnell McDonald kept things going by drawing a six pitch walk. One of the Sox' hottest bats in Ryan Sweeney failed to come through, popping out into foul territory, but Mike Aviles finally managed to find his stride again and put the Sox on the board after ten straight scoreless innings with a two-run double to right field.
The Sox would end up loading the bases as Kelly Shoppach caught a glancing blow on his elbow and Jacoby Ellsbury worked a tough walk, but even as Scherzer was throwing pitches well out of the zone and testing Alex Avila behind the plate, Dustin Pedroia could not cash in, swinging underneath a high fastball and then through one that was begging to be hit, striking out to end the threat.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 4, End 1st - Once again, the Sox are off to a very bad start, as Clay Buchholz has helped the Tigers to a large early lead.
While Buchholz would get ahead of Austin Jackson in his first regular season at bat since his back injury knocked him out half way through 2011, he left an 0-2 changeup in the zone, giving Jackson a chance to line a double down the third base line. Buchholz would battle back from a 3-0 count to get Brennan Boesch out, but a throw to third just missed catching Jackson as he tagged up, and Miguel Cabrera quickly made it 1-0 with a ground ball single of his own.
Buchholz would end up loading the bases for Jhonny Peralta on another ground ball single to Prince fielder and a walk to Alex Avila. Getting ahead 0-2, it seemed like the Sox might escape with limited injury, but another bad offspeed pitch stayed up over the plate, and Peralta punished him for it. Jacoby Ellsbury managed to put his glove on the long fly ball, but had it bounce out as three Tigers raced home, leaving Detroit up 4-0.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 1st - The Sox make it ten straight scoreless innings with a quiet first. Nick Punto failed in his role as the "spark plug" by lining softly to shortstop for the first out of the game, and Jacoby Ellsbury swung through a 2-2 fastball for the second.
Dustin Pedroia would end up reaching first when he reached out and knocked an 0-2 slider into left field for a base hit, but Adrian Gonzalez couldn't cash in, taking a big swing that just got a bit too far underneath an 0-1 fastball for a routine fly ball to left.
Sometimes after a bad start like the Red Sox have endured—a heartbreaker Thursday, a blowout Saturday—a shakeup is in order. Sometimes that shakeup can bring life to a team.
Other times, it puts bad bats at the top of the lineup and pits platoon players against the wrong pitcher. Sunday is one of those times, as Bobby Valentine has submitted one bizarre lineup to play against Max Scherzer.
Boston Red Sox (0-2)
The Red Sox suffered a 10-0 blowout loss Saturday afternoon, as the Tigers got to Josh Beckett for seven runs on five homers and the Tigers bullpen held down the fort for an injured Doug Fister to keep the Sox off the board.
The trouble started early for Josh Beckett, with Miguel Cabrera taking him deep to left field in the first inning for two runs. While Beckett settled down nicely in the second, the Tigers would get some stronger contact in the third, and then really break through in the fourth with Prince Fielder and Alex Avila hitting the second and third Detroit homers of the game. Cabrera would grab another in the fifth, as would Fielder, leaving Beckett with seven earned runs in under five innings of work.
The Sox' lineup, meanwhile, had done nothing against Doug Fister but waste opportunities, and would fair no better when Fister suddenly left the game in the middle of an at bat to Ryan Sweeney in the fourth. Duane Below allowed just one hit in recording seven outs, and a combination of Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke, and Joaquin Benoit would follow up with three more scoreless innings to end the game.
Beckett Lacking: Beckett did not seem terrible early on, showing good movement on his fastball and getting some results in the second and third innings. As the game wore on, however, he would simply leave the ball over the plate time-and-again, allowing the Tigers' best hitters to take big swings at bad pitches. It's a terrible beginning to the season for a pitcher the Sox can't afford to have go through his typical even-year struggles.
Looking Foolish: Mike Aviles and Cody Ross are doing a terrible job of making good on their spring training performances. Not only did they combine to go 0-7 with four strikeouts, but they looked terrible in doing so, with Aviles seemingly lost as to what he should and shouldn't swing at, and Ross generating the type of wind speed with his swings-and-misses that he might well have powered the whole city of Detroit.
Messy: There's simply no other way to describe Boston's play right now. It's as if they stepped right out of September 2011 into Detroit. Bad in the field, bad at the plate, bad at the mound, and with everything that could go wrong doing so.
Looming Specter: We're only two games into the season, but it's hard not to look ahead all the way to game six. Last year's 0-6 start has left Sox fans traumatized on some level. One can't help but think that the longer it takes for that first win, the harder it will be to shake the specter of 2011.
The Red Sox and Tigers are ready to show down again in Detroit, with Josh Beckett taking the mound against Doug Fister.
Josh Beckett will look to get a quick start to his season as he attempts to maintain the success he enjoyed in 2011. It's an even year, however, which has meant bad things in the past. The superstitious amongst us might consider doing something with salt and their shoulders.
Doug Fister also had a strong 2011, but was especially impressive after a mid-season trade to the Tigers from the Mariners. He's not going to strike a ton of guys out, unlike Justin Verlander, so the Sox should at least be able to get some hits in given Detroit's fairly porous infield defense.
We'll keep you up-to-date here as the game continues and the Sox look for their first win of the season.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 10, Final - That's (mercifully) a wrap. Kevin Youkilis' double play ball erased Kelly Shoppach after a leadoff single, and while Ryan Sweeney collected another hit, Cody Ross struck out to end the game once and for all.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 10, End 8th - Michael Bowden has given the Red Sox at least some small modicum of relief, preventing he Tigers from adding on to their run total for the first time since they opened up on Beckett in the fourth. He did allow a baserunner, but managed to induce a double play to get out of the inning with just three batters faced.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 10, Mid 8th - The Red Sox are up to 10 strikeouts on the day after Mike Aviles and Adrian Gonzalez contributed a pair en route to an eighth scoreless inning.
Mike Aviles has been pretty difficult to watch through these first two games. Trying to pull everything he saw in the first game, Aviles is now just struggling to make contact, swinging at pitches way out of the zone and missing even when he gets a strike to hit. This stands in stark contrast to the rather impressive performance he put on during spring training, when he seemed ready to plant balls off the monster all day long.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 10, End 7th - The bad news is that the Tigers scored two more runs. The good news is that it only counts as one game no matter how many they win by, and that none of the runs were given up by pitchers expected to contribute much of anything.
Matt Albers dispelled any last hopes Sox fans may have been holding onto that the first half of 2011 was anything more than a fluke by first drilling Prince Fielder in the ankle, then giving up a pair of singles to load the bases. A ground ball almost had the Sox out of it, but a low throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia got away from Adrian Gonzalez, letting a ninth run in. Justin Thomas came in specifically to handle lefty Andy Dirks, but failed even in that task, giving up a single that made it 10-0.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 8, Mid 7th - The Red Sox are quickly approaching Harlem Globetrotter territory--or, rather, Washington Generals territory. After Ryan Sweeney's single, the most noteworthy event in the scoreless top of the 7th was Cody Ross striking out so badly that his bat ended up in the hands of Jhonny Peralta at short.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 8, End 6th - The Tigers continue to pile on the misery, adding an eighth run to their tally by way of a few weak hits that dropped in in front of Jacoby Ellsbury, who came up just short on a diving attempt on the first. Atchison would induce three straight groundouts, but with the two hits coming at the beginning of the inning, the Sox couldn't keep the run out.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 7, Mid 6th - For those searching for silver linings, the sixth inning had a few very minor ones. Jacoby Ellsbury didn't provide any of them as he swung on top of a high pitch for another weak groundout, though it's some consolation that he started 2011 slow as well.
The first good sign came from Dustin Pedroia, who nearly put the Sox on the board with a very long foul ball. While he would strike out on a pitch that looked both low and outside, Adrian Gonzalez reached base as he put a ball high off te wall in right, again missing a home run by at most a few feet. David Ortiz had the sort of swing that was likely to extend the rally, but hit a line drive right at the outfielder, leaving the Sox without anything to show for a lot of solid contact.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 7, End 5th - Two more homers and Josh Beckett is out of the game. In all likelihood, so are the Red Sox. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both made it two on the day, with Fielder easily clearing the wall in right and Gonzalez just barely clearing the fence in left after the umpires checked the replay. Scott Atchison would be called on to record the final out of the fifth, finally retiring the side after Delmon Young reached on an error from Mike Aviles.
It's beginning to feel a lot like September.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 5, Mid 5th - In need of five runs, the Sox seem like a long shot for even one at the moment. The bottom of the lineup could do nothing in the fifth, though Jarrod Saltalamacchia at least put some decent wood on the ball.
Cody Ross got things started by chasing ball four, turning a walk into a weak ground ball. Saltalamacchia could well have had his second hit of the game, but came up empty as Miguel Cabrera made a diving play to his left to snag a line drive for the out. The Sox' last shot in the inning, but chased a very high fastball, looking overmatched in striking out.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 5, End 4th - The Sox suddenly seem to be headed for 0-2 after a disastrous fourth inning has them down five runs. Prince Fielder put a big swing on the first pitch of the inning, and while it was just a monster foul, it would serve as an omen for the rest of the frame. Three pitches later, Fielder got exactly what he wanted and gave the Tigers their second homer of the game to left to make it 3-0, Tigers.
As seems to be the case all-too-often for the Red Sox in recent years, things started to snowball. The third pitch to Delmon Young would result in a dribbler past the mound which Adrian Gonzalez could not make a play on, giving the Tigers another baserunner. It did not take long at all for Detroit to capitalize, with Alex Avila depositing the very next pitch over the left field fence for a two-run shot--the third such homer Beckett has allowed on the day.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, Mid 4th - The Red Sox leave another man on base, but in a sudden twist of events, Doug Fister is out of the game.
The Sox had another leadoff runner reach, with Adrian Gonzalez knocking a ground ball single up the middle, but were once again unable to take advantage. David Ortiz nearly left the park, but had his ball die on the track for the first out. Kevin Youkilis' early struggles continued, taking a 2-2 fastball on the outside part of the plate for a called strike three.
The surprise came on a 1-0 pitch to Ryan Sweeney, as Fister threw a routine looking pitch, but then signaled to the dugout, bringing out Jim Leyland and the Detroit trainer. The conference at the mound would not last long, with Fister leaving the game and lefty Duane Below making his way out to finish off the inning by inducing a pop up from Ryan Sweeney.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, End 3rd - A bit of a mixed bag of an inning for Josh Beckett, but still no more runs on the board for the Tigers. Beckett started the inning off with his first strikeout of the game, getting Ryan Rayburn swinging at a curveball. The second at bat didn't go as well, however, with Austin Jackson getting out in front of the plate on a curveball and pulling it to left for a double.
Beckett would nearly give up the run when Brennan Boesch put a good swing on a bad changeup, but Ryan Sweeney proved up to the challenge in right, running the ball down and keeping Jackson at second. With just Miguel Cabrera to go to escape the inning, Beckett got the best of the third baseman this time around, getting him to chase a pitch well out of the zone and then take a fastball for a called third strike to escape the frame.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, Mid 3rd - For the second straight game, the Sox have wasted a leadoff double, this time off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who took advantage of a high pitch and sent it into right field for the two-bagger.
As happened on Opening Day, however, the first out was in the wrong direction to get the runner over, with Aviles grounding out to short. Jacoby Ellsbury's weak grounder would manage to move Salty along, but with two outs it wasn't terribly helpful, leaving it up to Dustin Pedroia to either get a hit or let the opportunity fall by the wayside. While the second baseman took a good cut and hit the ball hard, it went right to Miguel Cabrera at third for the final out.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, End 2nd - It was a much better second inning for Josh Beckett, whose fastball is showing some serious movement. Unable to make good contact, Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta both pounded the ball into the ground, with Adrian Gonzalez making the toss to Beckett for both outs. Andy Dirks managed to put the ball in the air, but only by golfing at it, lifting an easy pop fly to left. So long as he keeps that pitch out of the middle of the plate against guys like Miguel Cabrera, he should keep seeing these kinds of results.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, Mid 2nd - After benefiting from a fair few double plays on Opening Day, the Sox are victimized by one in the second. David Ortiz started the inning off with a single that just barely beat the shift, and moved to second when Ryan Sweeney drew a walk after Kevin Youkilis swung through a changeup for Fister's second strikeout.
Unfortunately, that was as far as the Sox would go in the inning. Facing a 1-1 count, Cody Ross got on top of a fastball and sent it straight towards second base, allowing the Tigers to turn two with relative ease.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, End 1st - Vindication for the superstitious, as Beckett leads off with a six pitch walk to Austin Jackson, then leaves a fastball over the middle of the plate to Miguel Cabrera. That's...rarely a good idea. Cabrera did what he does best, and put a huge swing on the ball, sending it deep to left-center for a two-run shot.
Hopefully the Sox don't wait until the ninth to score some runs this time around.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 1st - So far, so good for Doug Fister, who is through the dangerous top of the order on just 12 pitches. It's not quite the dominance shown by Justin Verlander, who needed only nine to sit the Sox down Thursday, but it's close.
Fister even has the strikeout working early, getting Adrian Gonzalez to swing at a 2-2 changeup outside the zone for the K.
The Red Sox will trot out the same lineup against Doug Fister as they did against Justin Verlander for the second game of the season.
While the Sox only managed two runs on Opening Day, it's very hard to blame any lineup for failing to score against an ace like Justin Verlander. With Doug Fister on the mound, they'll hope for more from an offense that led the league in scoring in 2011.
Now facing the right-handed Josh Beckett rather than lefty Jon Lester, the Tigers will make a few minor modifications, moving catcher Alex Avila up to sixth in the order, shifting Ryan Raburn to second base, and starting Andy Dirks at designated hitter.
Boston Red Sox (0-1)
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy likes the Boston Red Sox's offense and their first three starters. But in his opinion, the team didn't do enough this offseason to address glaring issues.
"They're capable. But I just don't like the way the offseason went. They didn't do enough in my view. A lot of people got better. One of them's [the Detroit Tigers]. I think there's a little bit of concern if they got worse and everybody else got better," Shaugnessy said on CSNNE's Sports Tonight.
One decision that could come back to haunt the Red Sox is their choice not to re-sign Jonathan Papelbon this summer. The Sox acquired Andrew Bailey, but he underwent thumb surgery during spring training and could take months to recover.
"They never made [Papelbon] an offer. We know they just gave up, they said, 'We got our six years out of this guy. We're not going to overpay, especially the third and fourth year of the contract,'" said Shaughnessy. "I understand that, but if they hadn't misspent the money on [John] Lackey and [Carl] Crawford, maybe they would have had some money for Papelbon. They were right about Pedro [Martinez] when they didn't give him four years. They were wrong about [Johnny] Damon. You better hope Papelbon's not closer to Damon when it comes to the third and fourth year of that contract."
For more from Shaughnessy on Boston's flaws, click here or watch the video below:
A dramatic ninth inning saw the Red Sox mount a comeback from down 2-0 only to lose in the bottom half as the Tigers staged a rally of their own to walk off with a 3-2 win.
The game began as a classic pitchers' duel between Jon Lester and Justin Verlander, with Verlander seemingly having the upper hand for most of it. While Lester managed to dodge damage from numerous leadoff hitters, picking up three double plays along the way, Verlander cruised with an untouchable curveball and his usual overpowering fastball.
The breakthrough for Detroit came in the seventh when, with two outs, Lester surrendered a pair of doubles to Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. That advantage would double in the eighth after Vicente Padilla threw a dead-center fastball to Austin Jackson, who cleared it out for a leadoff triple.
While the Sox staged their big comeback, culminating in Ryan Sweeney's two-out triple to right field which tied the game at 2-2, the bullpen once again fell short in the ninth. Mark Melancon allowed hard contact to all three batters he faced, letting two of them reach base, and Alfredo Aceves loaded the bases by hitting Ramon Santiago. With one out and all the fielders in, Austin Jackson managed to slap a ball past a diving Kevin Youkilis at third, bringing the winning run home and sending the Red Sox to 0-1.
Impatient at the plate: The last thing a team wants to do when up against a truly dominant pitcher is to make it easy on him by swinging early and at bad pitches. That's exactly what the Sox did time and again. Escaping the first inning on just nine pitches, Verlander would cruise through the first seven on under 95 tosses before being treated to another nine pitch frame in the eighth.
If the Sox had gotten to the Tigers' bullpen earlier, this may have been a different game. When Verlander is on like he was today, you just have to try and get past him to the next guy.
Up-and-down Lester: While Lester left the game with seven innings of one-run ball to his name, he was not at his absolute best, never recording a clean inning and surviving largely on double plays. It's still an encouraging start for a guy who too often seems to not show up until May, but it maybe wasn't as good as the box score suggests.
Bad bullpen: The focus for tomorrow will of course fall on the bullpen which allowed two runs in two innings, and the blown save of Alfredo Aceves. It doesn't help that the main competition for that closer role was the one who allowed the first two baserunners to reach to begin with.
Still, it's a long season, and two innings do not make or break a relief corps. Franklin Morales looked good in his short appearance, and Mark Melancon is a talented pitcher even if that didn't shine through. Hopefully as things shake out and everyone starts feeling more comfortable with their role, the unit will come together and produce better results.
We're all of a half hour away from the first game of the 2012 regular season for the Boston Red Sox.
While the Sox are on the road to start the season for the second straight year, they'll be hoping for a much better start then last year, when they went 0-6 out of the gates.
It won't be hard to outdo that, of course, but 1-0 may be no small feat up against Justin Verlander. The Red Sox have the lineup to give the reigning AL Cy Young winner and MVP a run for his money, however, with arguably the best 1-through-5 in the game. With ace Jon Lester on a roll and set to take the mound, they should have a chance to win no matter what the competition.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EST, though with Opening Day festivities you never know when exactly it will come.
Follow along here for live updates as the game gets underway.
Red Sox 2, Tigers 3, Final - The Red Sox gave it a run, but the first game of the season fell the Tigers' way thanks to a bad showing from the Red Sox' bullpen.
Mark Melancon made his Red Sox debut to start the ninth, and it did not go at all well, with a long fly to right being followed up by a pair of base hits. Pulled for newly named closer Alfredo Aceves, the Sox saw even worse results from last year's long-man. Hitting Ramon Santiago on the foot, Aceves loaded the bases with one out, and then on a high fastball saw Austin Jackson smack a ground ball past Kevin Youkilis at third.
It's a disappointing loss after the ninth inning comeback, but with Verlander on the mound, sometimes you just have to accept your defeat and move on. The Sox will get a chance to even things up Saturday as Josh Beckett takes on Doug Fister.
Red Sox 2, Tigers 2, Mid 9th - The first comeback of the year comes in the first game of the year, with the Red Sox rallying to tie the game when the end seemed at hand!
With Verlander finally out of the game, Valverde in, and their best batters at the plate, the Sox finally managed to put some offense together. Dustin Pedroia led things off with a double to right field, and moved to third as Adrian Gonzalez found left field on a line.
David Ortiz would fail to reach base, getting underneath a pitch to sky a ball to center that scored Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis made it two down as he foul tipped a splitter for strike three.
Down to their last batter in Ryan Sweeney, the Sox got a bit of a morale boost as Darnell McDonald, pinch running for Adrian Gonzalez pulled into second with a stolen base. It would turn out to be unnecessary, though, as Sweeney caught a splitter that stayed inside and knocked it off the wall in right, narrowly missing a home run but still reaching third as he tied the game at 2-2 with a triple.
The Sox almost had the lead, too, but Cody Ross' line drive went right to short, where Jhonny Peralta snagged it to keep the game tied.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 2, End 8th - Welcome to the Red Sox, Vicente Padilla. Please don't pitch like that again. Facing just two batters, Padilla would offer up a dead center fastball to Austin Jackson, who smacked it over Ryan Sweeney's head in right for a leadoff triple.
While Padilla would get a ground out without allowing the run in, the Sox would elect to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera and call in Franklin Morales to face Prince Fielder. Morales would record the out, but on a fly ball just deep enough to get the speedy Jackson home on the sacrifice fly.
The Sox will have three outs with their best hitters coming up to come back against Jose Valverde.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 1, Mid 8th - The Red Sox have not done a very good job of seeing pitches against Justin Verlander today, and the result is that the Cy Young winner just walked off the mound after eight full innings of work to chants of "M V P".
The inning, for the record, took all of nine pitches--a number Verlander has already hit twice in this outing. Jarrod Saltalamacchia swung at the first pitch he saw, hacking at a low ball for an easy fly out. Mike Aviles took a couple before trying to hook an outside pitch for the second out. Jacoby Ellsbury did best of all, actually forcing Verlander to throw five before grounding out weakly.
We'll see if Leyland wants to stick with his ace for the ninth. If we were deeper into the season, I'd think he probably would, but in his first start the Tigers may want to take it easy.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 1, End 7th - It took seven innings, but the Tigers finally have their breakthrough against Jon Lester, and it came with two outs.
After some lazy fly ball outs brought Lester within an inch of escaping the seventh unharmed, Jhonny Peralta once again proved a thorn in his side, pulling a first pitch fastball into left field for a double. Lester would get ahead of Alex Avila 1-2, but had close calls go against him on two straight pitches. Now facing a full count, Lester left a fastball high, and Avila got all of it, nearly leaving the park with an RBI double that Cody Ross could not track down.
Lester escaped the inning without allowing any more runs, but with Verlander pitching unbelievably well right now, the Sox will be lucky to score in the last two innings.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 7th - Justin Verlander might be at 93 pitches through the middle of the seventh, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him. While there's some action in the bullpen behind him, Verlander is still throwing plenty fast and, more importantly, dropping some of the most devastating curveballs on hitters the game may have ever seen. It was 1-2-3 for the Sox once again, and until someone else is in the game, it's hard to see that changing.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 6th - If Jon Lester has a game plan, it can be summed up with "don't pitch to Miguel Cabrera".
Offering up another walk to the Tigers' big #3 hitter, Lester nonetheless avoided damage, getting ahead of Prince Fielder 0-2 and then picking up an easy ground ball for his third double play of the game. It's not been a dominant game from Lester, but if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 6th - It's still scoreless in Detroit despite the best offensive inning so far from the Boston Red Sox.
If things had gotten started earlier in the frame, it might have been different. But Mike Aviles' weak ground ball and Jacoby Ellsbury's foul to third base resulted in a pair of outs thanks to some acrobatics from Miguel Cabrera, who went end-over-end recording the out on Ellsbury.
Only then did the Sox find some success against Verlander. Perhaps the only bad pitch he's thrown so far--a changeup that hung up on the outside part of the plate was shot towards Miguel Cabrera, who whiffed on the hard ground ball allowing Pedroia to reach first. Perhaps this shook Verlander, as he proceded to walk Adrian Gonzalez on five pitches.
That brought David Ortiz to the plate for the biggest Boston at bat of the day, but it was not to be. Falling behind 0-2, Papi fought off some pitches but ultimately fell victim swinging at a curveball that broke down into the dirt.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 5th - Jon Lester faced some reasonable danger in the fifth, but once again lives to tell the tale.
Ryan Raburn and Jhonny Peralta got the inning started with a ground ball single and walk to give the Tigers their first RISP on the day. Lester was looking very shaky, but was given a reprieve from Jim Leyland, who sent Alex Avila up to bunt. The big-hitting catcher took a strike on the corner, punched futilely at another one, and then ended up swinging through a 2-2 pitch for the all-important strikeout.
Lester would come dangerously to walking Austin Jackson after getting Ramon Santiago to pop out, but fought back from 3-0 to bring the count full and then got the Detroit center fielder to golf one into right for an easy fly out.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 5th - We're halfway through the game, and the Red Sox only just now picked up their second it off of Justin Verlander--something of a bloop single off the bat of Ryan Sweeney.
There was another good sign, however, despite a fifth straight scoreless inning thrown by Justin Verlander. Cody Ross put a big swing on a ball, launching it just shy of the wall in right field. If he had gotten just a little more of it, the game would be 2-0, Sox right now.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 4th - Jon Lester continues to allow one baserunner per inning, but probably looked better here than he had in any previous frame. After getting Brennan Boesch to ground out, Lester gave up a 4-pitch walk to Miguel Cabrera to satisfy his quota.
Let's be honest, if you're going to walk someone, it might as well be Cabrera. The Tigers are hoping that Prince FIelder will be able to force opposing pitchers' hands against their hard-hitting
first third baseman, but this time it didn't turn out that way. Fielder swung through a nice cutter for strike two, and then watched as Lester painted the corner for strike three, walking back to the dugout without complaint. Delmon Young would be Detroit's last chance to make something of the inning, but a pop fly left the game scoreless heading to the fifth.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 4th - The Red Sox are barely putting up a fight against Justin Verlander at this point. Dustin Pedroia reached for an outside pitch to fly out in foul territory, Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a changeup away, and while David Ortiz put a good swing on a high fastball, he just didn't get enough of it to challenge Detroit's expansive center field.
Nine pitches was all it took, bringing Verlander's count back down into complete game territory through four.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 3rd - Stop me if you've heard this one before: Jon Lester gave up a leadoff single...
This time, however, there was no double play in the cards. In three straight battles, Lester would induce outs on a line drive, a shallow fly to left, and a medium fly ball to center field. While he's out of the inning with the shutout intact, the Tigers are getting a lot of good contact off of him, and his pitch count isn't quite as low anymore.
Hopefully it's just a bit of early-season rust, and we'll start seeing the swing-and-miss stuff we know he has soon.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 3rd - It looks like we're settling into a pitcher's duel, as Justin Verlander just racked up a second 1-2-3 inning, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles in the process. Nothing unusual from Verlander today--overpowering fastball mixed with some knee-buckling secondary pitches. It's gonna be a long day for the lineup if he keeps it up.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 2nd - Prince Fielder starts his Tigers career on a good note, working the count full and then managing to get around enough on a high-inside fastball to lace it into right for a second straight leadoff single.
Just like in the first inning, however, it takes Lester all of one pitch to erase the baserunner, getting Delmon Young to ground into the second Tigers double play in as many innings. Ryan Raburn goes down swinging, and Lester is through the second with just 18 total pitches on his arm.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Mid 2nd - David Ortiz picks up the first hit for the Red Sox, sending a long fly ball to left field for a leadoff double.
Unfortunately, it doesn't lead to any runs on the board. Kevin Youkilis failed to move Ortiz to third, making Ryan Sweeney's slow roller to second largely useless. Cody Ross managed to work a good at bat against Verlander, running the count full, but struck out on a nasty curve that dropped perfectly into the zone.
Verlander at least had to work for that one.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, End 1st - On the first pitch of the year for the Red Sox, Austin Jackson pulls an inside fastball to left for a single. On the second pitch of the year for the Red Sox, Brennan Boesch grounds into a double play. That's a wash if I've ever seen one.
Three pitches later and Youkilis snares a line drive off Miguel Cabrera's broken bat. That's a 1-2-3 on just five pitches. Your move, Verlander.
Red Sox 0, Tigers 0, Top 1st - Jacoby Ellsbury flies out on three pitches, and we are underway in Detroit. Verlander hit 96 with the final pitch of the at bat.
Two more easy flies and Justin Verlander is out of the first with just nine pitches. Hopefully Jon Lester looks as sharp to start.
The Red Sox lineup set to face off against Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Opening Day features no real surprises, as Bobby Valentine has penciled in the same starting nine in the same order that he had been using late in spring training.
Boston Red Sox (0-0)
Jacoby Ellsbury stays in the leadoff spot despite his power surge in 2011. It's been a difficult position for the Sox to fill throughout the past few years, with Dustin Pedroia expressing discomfort there and J.D. Drew never really taking to it despite his walk-friendly ways at the plate.
Valentine has chosen to forego the alternating right-left organization in the middle of the lineup, slotting David Ortiz ahead of Kevin Youkilis as the Sox prepare to take on the right-handed Justin Verlander. With big numbers against lefties last year, however, opposing managers will have a tough time taking advantage with left-handed relievers.
Ryan Sweeney is perhaps the biggest question mark, batting ahead of Cody Ross despite the latter's strong spring. Once again, however, handedness likely ruled he day here, with Ross being a lefty masher and Sweeney doing his best work against righties.
The Tigers will respond with their own dangerous 3-4 punch:
Detroit Tigers (0-0)
Opening Day is here, and the Red Sox are in Detroit ready to test their mettle against the AL Central's best. Jon Lester will get the start against the reigning American League Cy Young winner and MVP, Justin Verlander.
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