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.
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