A beautiful loss. The Red Sox dropped their season opener to the Tigers in a real nail-biter, but it was a beautiful game nonetheless. Detroit starter Justin Verlander was magnificent, going 8 shutout innings while giving up just 2 hits and striking out 7. Jon Lester put runners on base during nearly all of his 7 innings of work (6 hits, 1 walk) but managed to give up just 1 run. Extra base hits by Jhonny Peralta (off Lester) and Austin Jackson (off reliever Vincente Padilla) led to 2 runs for the Tigers, but the Sox rallied with 2 runs in the 9th (Dustin Pedroia scored off a David Ortiz sacrifice fly, and Adrian Gonzalez scored on a single by Ryan Sweeney) to tie the score. Alas, in the bottom of the inning, Peralta and Alex Avila singled, and Ramon Santiago was hit on the heel by a freak pitch from Alfredo Aceves to load the bases for Jackson, who delivered for the Tigers with a single to drive in the winning run.
Daniel Bard, who ought to close in this situation, was unavailable because he is in the rotation, starting game 5. This is nothing against Aceves, who is a decent reliever, but the Sox need a fireball lights-out guy in this spot, in this writer’s opinion. Let’s hope that either he works out as a starter, or that Bobby Valentine determines otherwise very quickly, so the pitching staff situation can be sorted out in short order. The really big question will be addressed in the third game of this series, when Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start. No doubt, there was something in his pitching motion that caused that stress fracture in his back last year. The question is this: has he adjusted his motion to avoid re-injury, and if so, will he still be as effective as in years past? All eyes will be on Clay this Easter Sunday in Detroit.
April 5, 2012 at Detroit: Detroit Tigers 3, Boston Red Sox 2; WP: Valverde, LP Melancon. Red Sox record: 0-1; Game 1/161. Box Score