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.