To say that the Red Sox did not start off well this season would be an understatement. The team was swept by the Detroit Tigers this weekend to start off the 2012 regular season. Amid speculation that the Sox did not have enough pitching, and with new closer Andrew Bailey out indefinitely after getting surgery on his thumb, the team is looking for someone to close out games.
There’s no use in thinking what could have been or what once was with Jonathan Papelbon as he is settling in nicely with his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Sox will have to turn in-house for an effective closer or go out and spend money trying to get one elsewhere.
Many have questioned whether the Sox should move Daniel Bard back into the bullpen and make him the closer, but he has prepared all Spring Training for the role of a starter. These are questions for new manager Bobby Valentine who is trying to inspire his team to play better.
On Opening Day, the Red Sox met up against 2011 MVP Justin Verlander. Red Sox left-hander, Jon Lester, held up just fine against him and the Tigers on his end, and neither team was able to score until the seventh inning when the Tigers broke the 0-0 tie. They got a second run in the eighth, but the Sox came back in the top of the ninth and tied the game. New pitcher Mark Melancon quickly allowed to base-runners so Valentine pulled him for Alfredo Aceves who was named the closer in Bailey’s place. Aceves allowed a walk-off single to Tiger’s Austin Jackson and the Sox lost 3-2.
Josh Beckett was hoping to continue Lester’s success, but instead let up five home runs, two to Miguel Cabrera and two to Prince Fielder. The fearsome back-to-back hitters may remind Sox fans of the one-time duo of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The pair of hitters could not be stopped and the Red Sox offense couldn’t get anything going against starter Doug Fister, who left the game with an injury after three innings, or any of the following Tigers pitchers. They lost 10-0 in the blowout.
Game three is one the Red Sox will also like to forget as they lost 13-12 in eleven innings. The Sox started off behind with the Tigers taking a 4-0 lead against Clay Buchholz in the first. The Sox offense did get something going with a two-run home run from Adrian Gonzalez in the second and added five more runs in the third to take a 7-5 lead. The Tigers tied the game in the fourth, but the Sox made it 9-7 in the sixth. Adding an insurance run at the top of the ninth inning, the Sox turned to Aceves once again to try to close it out. And once again, Miguel Cabrera could not be stopped when he hit a game tying three-run homerun. Neither team did anything in the tenth, and the Sox had one positive in their pitching on the day with a good outing by Franklin Morales. In the eleventh, the Red Sox finally thought they caught a break with two more runs with an RBI-singles from Nick Punto and Pedroia. Thinking they had a win, Melancon came in and was two outs and two strikes away from giving the Red Sox their first win of the season. Following a sacrifice fly for Tigers’ DH Delmon Young, catcher Alex Avila hit a two-run home run to win the game.
It’s a tough series for the Sox and to start off 0-3 after the devastating end to the 2011 season was not something anyone wanted or expected. Once they get going, hopefully their pitching can come together because we know the offense will, and has after scoring 12 runs in yesterday’s defeat. Maybe a change of scenery and a new opponent in the Blue Jays will help the Sox turn it around, so that they don’t come into the home opener on Friday April 13 looking quite as bad as they did last year. Let’s hope Friday the 13 brings good luck for the Sox and is not an ominous sign.
At the very least, Red Sox fans can take solace in the fact that the Yankees too have started the season 0-3.