With the Tigers down to their final strike in the 11th inning, Alex Avila lifted a two-run shot to right, giving Detroit a hard-fought 13-12 victory at Comerica Park.
Mark Melancon couldn't finish off Avila with a curveball, he went back to it on pitch No. 6, and Avila made him pay. The Tigers catcher lifted a fly ball to right that just cleared the yellow line on the top of the fence. The ball actually ricocheted back onto the field of play, but the umps ruled that it was, in fact, a home run.
This loss for the Red Sox is absolutely stunning. They worked their way back from a four-run first inning deficit and carried a 10-7 lead into the ninth inning but couldn't seal the deal, as Alfredo Aceves gave up a three-run, game-tying home run to Miguel Cabrera.
It looked like that just delayed the inevitable later on in the 11th inning, though, as the Sox picked up two runs on RBI singles from Cody Ross and Dustin Pedroia. Cabrera and Prince Fielder sparked a rally, though, leading to Avila's two-out, two-strike shot.
The Sox fall to 0-3 on the season, and a bit of panic may be starting to settle in throughout Red Sox Nation.
Bobby Valentine's bunch now travels to Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays still in pursuit of their first win of 2012.
Mid 11th, Red Sox 12-10: Nick Punto is putting together a nice game atop the Red Sox order, as he now has three hits, none bigger than his RBI single in the 11th.
With Joaquin Benoit back on for his second inning of work, Cody Ross worked a lead-off walk, after which he advanced to third on a Mike Aviles base hit to right field.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia was called upon to pinch hit for Kelly Shoppach, but he struck out swinging with runners at the corners for the first out. Punto followed up the K with a blooper into left field that fell in front of Ryan Raburn, who had just shifted to left field from second base with Danny Worth now in the game.
Ross scored on Punto's single, and Aviles — who played things very aggressively — got all the way to third base, bringing the Tigers infield in for Jacoby Ellsbury's at-bat. Ellsbury would strike out swinging on a changeup, but Dustin Pedroia ensured the Sox came away with at least one more run.
Pedroia ripped Benoit's offering into left field for a base hit, bringing home Aviles from third base and sending Punto over to take his place at third. Adrian Gonzalez would strike out to end the inning.
It'll be Mark Melancon trying to scoop up the save for the Sox in the 11th. He'll face a tall task, though, as the heart of the Tigers order is due up.
End 10th, 10-10: Franklin Morales came back on for a second inning of work, and he worked around a pinch-hit single off the bat of Danny Worth to keep the Tigers offense at bay.
Worth singled past the dive of Aviles with one out and garnered plenty of attention over at first base from Morales, whose pick-off move is a borderline balk. Then, after several pick-off attempts, Worth moved up to second on a ball in the dirt. Shoppach blocked the bouncing pitch, but it looked as if he was surprised to see Worth snag second.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Morales was able to strike out Austin Jackson swinging, resulting in the potential winning run getting left stranded at second.
Mid 10th, 10-10: Dustin Pedroia walked to lead off the 10th, but the Sox were unable to push him across, and the Tigers will come up in the bottom of the 10th with a chance to walk off with a win.
Pedroia worked the free pass against Joaquin Benoit, who then settled down to retire Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald in order.
Gonzalez and Ortiz both flew out to Austin Jackson in center, and Darnell McDonald struck out swinging on an 81-mph changeup.
End 9th, 10-10: And the Comerica Park crowd will be treated to some free baseball.
After Aceves fails to record an out and gives up a three-run bomb to Miguel Cabrera, lefty Franklin Morales retires the next three Tigers hitters to send this game to extra innings.
Morales struck out Prince Fielder — who was clearly swinging for the downs — on a curveball. Delmon Young then wasted no time trying to jump on Morales' offering, grounding out on the first pitch he saw.
Alex Avila gave one a ride to the opposite field, which momentarily got the Comerica crowd fired up, but Darnell McDonald tracked it down to record the out and end the inning.
To the 10th we go…
4:35 p.m.: Wow. Simply…wow.
Alfredo Aceves enters the game, and three batters later, the Tigers tie the game on a three-run shot by Miguel Cabrera.
Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch singled to greet Aceves, setting up the clutch blast by Cabrera.
Bobby Valentine has apparently seen enough, as he's already taking Aceves out in favor of Franklin Morales.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 10-7: The Red Sox extend their lead to three, as an infield single by Nick Punto gives Boston its 10th run of the game.
Darnell McDonald led off the inning with a single off Phil Coke. Cody Ross, pinch-hitting for Ryan Sweeney, then blooped one down the right-field line that caused a bit of confusion. In the end, no one was able to come up with it, and the ball dropped in just fair.
After Mike Aviles dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt, Tigers skipper Jim Leyland turned to Octavio Dotel. He struck out Kelly Shoppach swinging before Punto followed up with a ground ball in the hole. Peralta made a nice play, but Punto dove into first base head-first to beat out the shortstop's throw.
The Sox will turn to newly appointed closer Alfredo Aceves in the ninth inning.
End 8th, Red Sox 9-7: Vicente Padilla continues to impress, keeping the Tigers hitters off balance and forcing them to hit the ball on the ground for the most part.
Jhonny Peralta and Andy Dirks started off the eighth inning with a pair of groundouts, and Ryan Raburn then flew out to center to end the inning.
The Tigers will need some more ninth-inning magic if they want to complete the sweep.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 9-7: Things have kicked up another notch, as the benches have been warned after Phil Coke drills Adrian Gonzalez.
Nick Punto got the inning going with a double and advanced to third on a Jacoby Ellsbury groundout. The next batter, Dustin Pedroia, then hit a ground ball to short. Punto took off on contact, but then stopped halfway between third and home, and he was retired while Pedroia moved up to second.
Gonzalez then came up against the new hurler, Phil Coke, and Coke threw one that sailed to the backstop before then drilling the Boston first baseman with his next pitch. Manager Bobby Valentine came out to argue and call for Coke's ejection, but eventually is just amounted to warnings being issued.
Vicente Padilla, known for a bit of a temper, will have to be careful next inning.
End 7th, Red Sox 9-7: Vicente Padilla tosses another scoreless inning, and he's really been sharp since coming on in the fifth.
Padilla has now thrown three scoreless frames in relief, allowing just two hits and striking out four in the process.
Padilla faced the teeth of the Tigers order in the seventh, with Miguel Cabrera leading off. After kicking things off with a 56-mph eephus, Padilla then got Cabrera to ground out.
Prince Fielder flew out for the second out after he saw two consecutive eephus pitches early in the at-bat. Delmon Young reached via an infield single, but that's all the Tigers would muster up, as Padilla then retired Avila on a groundout.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 9-7: It's seventh-inning stretch time in Detroit, and the Sox are clinging to a 9-7 lead.
Daniel Schlereth was able to hold down the Sox offense an inning after giving up a two-run blast to Adrian Gonzalez.
Ryan Sweeney grounded out to second to kick things off in the away half of the seventh, and Mike Aviles — who has driven in three of Boston's runs — grounded out to third. Schlereth then struck out Kelly Shoppach, who went down swinging, to retire the side.
End 6th, Red Sox 9-7: Vicente Padilla has looked solid since entering the game.
The right-hander gave up a base hit to Andy Dirks to start the inning, but he then bounced back to strike out the next three hitters — Ryan Raburn, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 9-7: Adrian Gonzalez suffered a bit of a power outage the second half of last season, but the potential for the longball is certainly there.
Gonzalez blasted a two-run shot into the seats in right-center on Daniel Schlereth's first pitch of the afternoon, giving the Red Sox a 9-7 lead.
Schlereth bounced back to retire David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald, but the damage has been done. The way things have gone today, though, a two-run cushion is hardly a comfortable lead.
End 5th, 7-7: Nice work by Vicente Padilla in his first inning of the afternoon.
Padilla threw 12 pitches and retired the Tigers in order, which marks just the second inning in which they've been held scoreless this afternoon.
Delmon Young got a good piece of one to begin the inning, but it was right at Aviles at short, and he gobbled it up for the first out of the inning. Alex Avila, who Padilla started off with a 57-mph eephus, grounded out softly back to the mound for out No. 2, and Jhonny Peralta went down looking to end the inning.
Padilla's appearance closes the book on Buchholz's outing. Buchholz allowed seven runs (all earned) on eight hits in four innings. He struck out two, walked two and threw 78 pitches, 50 of which were strikes.
Detroit's starter, Max Scherzer, lasted 2 2/3 innings in this one, also allowing seven earned runs on eight hits.
Mid 5th, 7-7: It's amazing that Max Scherzer won't factor in the decision as badly as he pitched, but that's the case. Collin Balester came back out for another inning, and he's done a nice job.
Balester retired the Red Sox in order in the fifth, receiving the aid of some nifty glove-work by his fielders in the process.
After Mike Aviles grounded out for the inning's first out, Kelly Shoppach finally avoided being plunked and lifted one to shallow right field. Brennan Boesch came on strong and was able to make a nice diving play to rob Shoppach of a hit.
Jhonny Peralta then flashed some leather, making a nice play going up the middle and firing to first to retire Nick Punto, who went with a head-first dive into first.
Vicente Padilla is coming on in the fifth.
End 4th, 7-7: Well, so much for things settling down. The Tigers scored two runs in the home half of the fourth, and we're all tied up just like that.
After keeping the Tigers off the board in the third, Clay Buchholz got knocked around a bit in the fourth. Ryan Raburn, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch started the inning off with three consecutive singles, which led to a run and runners at the corners for Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera grounded into a double play, resulting in the first two outs of the inning but also Detroit's seventh run. It's a trade-off the Sox will happily take, though, as the Tigers looked poised for a monstrous inning.
Prince Fielder grounded out to second to end the inning.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 7-5: Collin Balester was able to keep the Boston offense in check in the fourth, so perhaps things will start to settle down a bit after an offensive clinic by both teams in the early going.
The scoreless frame didn't come with a baserunner, though, as David Ortiz shot a base hit to left field with one out. Darnell McDonald then flew out to right and Ryan Sweeney grounded out to short to erase any potential rally.
End 3rd, Red Sox 7-5: Clay Buchholz needed a shutdown inning, and he got one.
The righty kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for the first time today despite walking Alex Avila.
Buchholz retired Delmon Young on a groundout to short for the inning's first out before allowing the free pass to Avila. He then buckled down, though, retiring Jhonny Peralta and Andy Dirks on a flyout and groundout, respectively.
Peralta's at-bat lasted nine pitches before Buchholz got him to fly out on a 90-mph cutter.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 7-5: Clay Buchholz hasn't been able to tame the Tigers offense, but the Red Sox bats are keeping pace.
Adrian Gonzalez started things off in the third with a base hit, and David Ortiz plated him with a double into the gap. After Darnell McDonald went down swinging, Ryan Sweeney picked up a single that allowed Ortiz to reach third. Mike Aviles brought him in with a base hit, giving the Boston shortstop three RBIs in this contest.
Catchers are tough, and it's a good thing, because Kelly Shoppach has now been plunked twice in this game. After he was hit this time, which loaded the bases for the Red Sox, Nick Punto lofted a fly ball to shallow left-center. Austin Jackson made the play on the run and came up firing to the plate in an effort to gun down Sweeney, who was trying to score. The throw was in time, but Alex Avila was unable to corral it, and the Sox tied the game.
The game didn't remain deadlocked too long, though, as the Sox were able to push across two more runs in the inning.
A questionable balk call on Scherzer allowed the runners to advance, meaning Aviles came across with Boston's sixth run. Jacoby Ellsbury followed that up with a single through the left side that extended the lead to 7-5 and spelled the end of Scherzer's afternoon.
End 2nd, Tigers 5-2: The Tigers tacked on another run in the second.
Ryan Raburn and Austin Jackson got the inning going. Raburn was hit by a pitch and then advanced to third on an infield single by Jackson. Jackson hit a ground ball that Aviles fielded going into the hole, and Raburn went from first to third on the throw. The relay back to third skipped away, allowing Raburn to reach safely.
The second baseman ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. Ellsbury made a nice diving play, but the damage was done.
Mid 2nd, Tigers 4-2: Mike Aviles' first hit of the 2012 campaign has put the Sox right back in the game.
Aviles lined a double that one-hopped the wall in right-center, bringing around David Ortiz and Darnell McDonald, who both reached base to begin the inning.
Ortiz, Boston's first batter of the inning, beat the shift with a base hit to right. McDonald then worked a walk off Scherzer, who's having a bit of trouble locating his fastball.
After Ryan Sweeney popped out to Cabrera in foul territory, Aviles unloaded on a 94-mph fastball for the double.
Kelly Shoppach was then plunked, setting up runners at first and second for the second time in the inning. Nick Punto wasn't able to deliver, popping out to Peralta at short, but Ellsbury worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Pedroia struck out swinging to end the inning, leaving the bases juiced.
End 1st, Tigers 4-0: The Tigers offense is back at it, posting a four spot in the first inning, highlighted by a three-run double by Jhonny Peralta.
Austin Jackson saw mostly fastballs from Clay Buchholz to begin the inning, but the right-hander eventually went to the changeup on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, and Jackson turned it into a double.
Brennan Boesch then hit one well to left, but Darnell McDonald was able to track it down after calling off Ellsbury. Jackson alertly tagged up and went from second to third despite the ball being struck to the left side. It was a close play at third, but the tag was a bit high, and Jackson was able to get in safely.
Miguel Cabrera then went to work, shooting a base hit past the dive of Dustin Pedroia to drive in Jackson with the game's first run.
Prince Fielder, who like Cabrera blasted two home runs on Saturday, followed up Cabrera's single with one of his own. It marks the 1,000 hit of Fielder's career. You can bet it won't be the last milestone he reaches, though.
Buchholz was then able to strike out Delmon Young for the inning's second out. The righty pulled the string on the Tigers designated hitter for the third strike and showed a good mix of pitches throughout the at-bat. The next two at-bats didn't go quite as smoothly.
After Alex Avila worked a walk, Jhonny Peralta gave one a ride to deep left-center. Ellsbury nearly made a running grab, but it hit off his glove and all three runners came around to score, opening this game up early.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Nick Punto, the surprise leadoff man this afternoon, started the game off with a soft lineout right at Jhonny Peralta at short.
Jacoby Ellsbury, hitting out of the No. 2 spot, followed that up with a strikeout, pushing him to 0-for-8 on the young season.
This afternoon marks only the ninth time in his career that Ellsbury has batted second — he totaled 31 plate appearances in that spot before today's game. Last season, Ellsbury led off 144 games for the Sox, and not once did he bat second.
Dustin Pedroia, coming in at 1-for-7, dropped a base hit in front of Andy Dirks in left to become the game's first baserunner, but Adrian Gonzalez followed up with a flyout to end the frame.
1:05 p.m.: And we're ready to kick things off…
12:45 p.m.: We're about 20 minutes away from first pitch at Comerica Park in what can be categorized as a fairly important game for the Red Sox. They certainly won't want to head to Toronto on the heels of a sweep, so they'll need to come out with a solid effort this afternoon.
I'd also like to take this time to wish everyone a Happy Easter. And to do so, I give you puppies dressed as bunnies.
11:30 a.m.: The lineup cards are in, and Bobby Valentine is shaking things up after back-to-back losses to start his Boston tenure.
Nick Punto will replace Kevin Youkilis at third base. And not only will that mark Punto's first start in a Red Sox uniform, but the man known as "The Shredder" will lead off as the Sox go up against right-hander Max Scherzer. As a result, a number of players will shift down a spot in the lineup.
Darnell McDonald and Kelly Shoppach are also penciled into Boston's starting lineup, batting sixth and ninth, respectively.
Here's a look at the complete lineups for Sunday.
Nick Punto, 3B
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Darnell McDonald, LF
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Mike Aviles, SS
Kelly Shoppach, C
Clay Buchholz, P
Austin Jackson, CF
Brennan Boesch, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Delmon Young, DH
Alex Avila, C
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Andy Dirks, LF
Ryan Raburn, 2B
Max Scherzer, P
8 a.m.: This isn't exactly how Red Sox fans envisioned the season starting.
After suffering a heartbreaking defeat on Opening Day, Josh Beckett and the Sox got torched Saturday, falling 10-0 to the homer-happy Tigers.
Clay Buchholz will take the mound for the Sox on Easter Sunday, which marks his first regular-season start since June 16 of last year. He'll go up against Max Scherzer, who went 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA last year.
The game's first pitch will be delivered at 1:05 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NESN, but be sure to keep it here with NESN.com as well for additional commentary, analysis and plenty of wit.