What could have been a day of atonement for Josh Beckett, the bullpen, and — for that matter — the offense came up as a giant dud. If yesterday was Good Friday, today was a definite Black Saturday, creating more questions and sour feelings than anything else.
Beckett was gone in the fifth inning, having allowed five home runs — two apiece to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. The relief corps didn’t do much better, allowing three runs over the rest of the game and striking out just one Tiger.
But, before bemoaning Boston’s pitching too much, attention should also be given to the Red Sox’ offense. The bats failed to show up for a second day, and this time there was no Justin Verlander to blame. Even with the couple of hits Boston scratched out in the top of the ninth, the Red Sox (0-2) are batting just .188 so far this season, with 19 strikeouts in 18 innings.
Boston also had two errors, and the team on a whole just never looked threatening.
Hope abounds tomorrow on Easter, though. The Red Sox will get one more crack at the mighty Tigers (2-0) right here on NESN, when Clay Buchholz will take the mound. Let’s hope the Red Sox got all the ugly out of their systems today.
End 8th, Tigers 10-0: Michael Bowden came in to try to end this one gracefully for Boston. He allowed a walk but got two straight groundouts for the three outs they needed.
Mid 8th, Tigers 10-0: What would you give to see a Red Sox player have the same intensity as Phil Coke, who ran an Olympic sprint from the bullpen to take the ball for Detroit? Coke is stoked to be pitching.
He takes over for Octavio Dotel, who kept Detroit’s scoreless streak going last inning and struck out Aviles to start this inning.
The Tigers have used four pitchers today, but it doesn’t feel the same as the Red Sox having also used four.
Darnell McDonald came in for Ellsbury and struck out. Pedroia walked, but Gonzalez struck out swinging, too. That’s 10 strikeouts for the Sox.
End 7th, Tigers 10-0: What’s that smell coming from Detroit?
The Red Sox are finding plenty of ways to stink.
Matt Albers came in to take care of relief duties for Atchinson, who went 1 1/3 and let in a run. Albers retired Cabrera on a groundout but then plunked Fielder. Young and Aliva singled to load the bases, then Peralta hit a grounder that looked like it would get the Sox out of the inning.
Instead, after stepping on home to force out Fielder, Saltalamacchia sent one in the dirt and to Gonzalez’s right at first, pulling him off the bag. Not only did Boston fail to get the out, but a runner also snuck home as the infield scuffled around, trying to grab the ball.
Justin Thomas came in to pitch next — the fourth Boston pitcher of the day — and had Saltalamacchia scooting all over the place to corral his pitches before Dirks punched one over short to score another run. That leaves just Boesch and Raburn without hits for the Tigers this afternoon. Five Tigers have two hits.
Mid 7th, Tigers 8-0: Cody Ross, unable to get distance by hitting, sends his bat helicoptering toward short as he strikes out. He has yet to record a hit as a member of the Red Sox. Saltalamacchia struck out, too.
The last time Youkilis was up, it was 2-0 Detroit, and Youkilis struck out for the second time against Fister. How things have changed. This time it’s a groundout and a 8-0 hole.
Cabrera and Fielder are probably both salivating as their next turns at the plate approach.
End 6th, Tigers 8-0: As long as we’re talking regrets and heaping it on the Red Sox, why not mention Jose Iglesias? After an error last inning, Aviles didn’t do much to make a double play happen in this inning.
He’s not the only one who doesn’t look good out there, though. Two straight balls went Ellsbury’s way to start the inning. He muffed the first one, seeing it bounce out of his glove after he made a great diving catch. The second was just a run-of-the-mill single, but the runner that he allowed on base with his error later came in to score on a groundout.
There was plenty of dismay after Boston’s Opening Day loss, enough to make you think the season was settled and the Sox were just playing the other 161 because they had to. You would think people were exaggerating, but today is about as uninspired as it gets.
Mid 6th, Tigers 7-0: Lots of carnage in this one, and it extends to the Boston lineup. It’s not like the Red Sox have been diving after a lot of ground balls today or anything … watching those home runs go out shouldn’t mess up their hitting strokes.
Gonzalez nailed a piece of a pitch but only got a single out of it.
Below is turning in a fine performance for Detroit, though. Since spelling Fister, he’s allowed just the one hit to Gonzalez. Word is that Fister has a strain on his left side, possibly an oblique or a rib.
On a side note, Carl Crawford is working his way back to hitting form.
Bobby Valentine can now dip into his bounty of pitching help. He might have known what he was doing when he brought 13 pitchers along for the start of the season.
Beckett’s line: 4.2 IP, 7R, 7H, 1BB, 3K, 5 HR. Do you think his thumb is hurt? Or maybe he misses Jason Varitek.
End 5th, Tigers 7-0: Beckett cannot catch a break in this one, and for that, he’s given the towel.
Fielder and Cabrera have both taken him over the fence again.
Cabrera’s was on a disputed call that the umpires at first ruled was a double. It looked like the ball bounced off the padding on the center field wall, but they ruled it a home run. No matter — Fielder cranked a huge blast to right field right after to reinforce that Beckett never had it in this one.
Beckett hasn’t allowed five homers in a game since August 2009, when the Yankees did the damage.
Scott Atchinson gets his first action of the season, coming on in relief. He gets the Sox out of the inning, but with the way the bullpen has been shaky, it’s a long four innings remaining.
Mid 5th, Tigers 5-0: You can be a much more successful third baseman when you’re catching liners with your glove and not your face. Cabrera took the best chance for another Boston hit away from Saltalamacchia with a great diving snag at third.
End 4th, Tigers 5-0: And the wheels are off.
Alex Avila and Prince Fielder both crank home runs to left center, Avila’s with a runner on base, to give Detroit a serious lead.
Beckett had retired six in a row before Jackson’s double last inning, but the Tigers are clearly owning Beckett in this one. His pitch count is up to 64 after four innings, and all but four Tigers (Boesch, Jhonny Peralta, Andy Dirks and Ryan Raburn) have hits this afternoon.
Prince Fielder led the home run parade, fulfilling some of the lofty expectations coming his way this season with an opposite-field longball to left center. That’s the first four-bagger of the year for Fielder.
Delmon Young followed up that homer with an infield single, then Avila clubbed his home run on the first pitch he saw from Beckett.
The good news: The B’s are up 1-0 over Buffalo.
Mid 4th, Tigers 2-0: Boston put its leadoff man on base again for the third straight inning, but again, it didn’t pay off.
Ortiz recorded a deep flyout, and Youkilis struck out for the second time this afternoon. Ryan Sweeney flew out after the pitching change.
Another fun (or depressing) stat: The Red Sox are batting .176 for the season as of this inning.
Duane Below is pitching for Detroit now, and after struggling with Fister all afternoon, this could be the break that Boston needs. Below has never faced the Red Sox.
5:05 p.m.: It looks like Fister is out of the game — not sure why, but a couple of coaches came to the mound to check on him, and he’s gone. He could be seen grabbing his left side around the rib cage after that last pitch.
Fister had thrown just 53 pitches and allowed only three hits. He struck out three but obviously had the Sox on the ropes, especially with all those ground balls that were going for outs.
End 3rd, Tigers 2-0: The atonement begins. Beckett wins his duel with Cabrera this time, striking out the Tiger slugger on three pitches with a man in scoring position. It wasn’t a completely smooth inning, but that’s got to be a boost for Beckett.
Jackson reached base for the second time in two tries against Beckett, this time on a great pull to left field. It rattled around enough to secure Jackson a double, but that was as far as he’d get.
That’s Beckett’s second strikeout of the day.
Mid 3rd, Tigers 2-0: This was the best effort so far from the offense, but it leaves a man stranded on second.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia got the first big hit for Boston, sending one into the right field grass. Some bobbling in the outfield gave him second base easily, but Mike Aviles, Ellsbury and Pedroia failed to drive him home.
End 2nd, Tigers 2-0: Gonzalez gets in some glovework over on first as Beckett induces a few easy outs to make this inning go by smoother. That’s a good breather for the defense, but the top of the order will be back up in the third.
Fun stat: Cabrera was 1-for-11 against Beckett before that home run.
Mid 2nd, Tigers 2-0: David Ortiz gets a bloop to fall for the Red Sox’ first hit of the day, but Fister looks pretty good out there. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez last inning, and in this one he gets Kevin Youkilis. He also got a double play to erase the baserunners and end the inning.
A good spurt by Boston’s offense is just what the team needs to get attention off of the pitching problems. With Fister mowing them down, though, it doesn’t look like the Sox will be able to do that anytime soon.
In other Boston sporting news, the Bruins have also failed to crack the scoreboard in their regular-season finale against the Sabres. Buffalo and Boston are stuck at 0-0 over on NESN.
End 1st, Tigers 2-0: If Beckett didn’t have a big enough hole to dig out of already, he adds a shaky first inning to the demons he’ll try to tame today.
Miguel Cabrera took one over the fence to put Detroit up 2-0 very early in this one.
Beckett walked the leadoff batter, center fielder Austin Jackson, then spent about the amount of time it takes to fully cook a pizza trying to hold him on first base. Brennan Boesch flared out to short, but Cabrera drilled a boomer to left center for two runs.
I’m not sure what the Detroit fans are happier about — that the Tigers are ahead, or that they didn’t have to watch another dozen Beckett pickoff moves.
That’s 19 pitches for Beckett in the first inning.
Mid 1st, 0-0: There’s nothing like the pop of the ball coming off the bats. Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia both got wood on Doug Fister pitches in the opening frame, but the contact only led to a flyout and groundout, respectively. Pedroia almost beat the throw to first, though, and it’s good to see his legs going. It’s a sure sign of spring.
On another note, I’m thinking about keeping a tally of the times “chicken” or “beer” is mentioned by the FOX commentators. Nobody outside of last season wants to leave what happened last fall behind.
4:05 p.m.: And we’re off. It looks like a beautiful day in Detroit.
4:00 p.m.: Since it’s Easter weekend and all, I’m going to go with the theme of atonement for today. Who needs atonement? Well, Christian doctrine aside, let’s start with a good chunk of the Red Sox’ pitching staff. Beckett is not only looking to lay to rest any concerns about his thumb but is also coming off a rough fall. September put an ugly sheen on what was otherwise a great season (13-7, 2.89 ERA) for the right-hander.
And redemption, er, atonement, is also needed for the newly minted members of the Red Sox’ bullpen. A day after being given the closer role, Alfredo Aceves couldn’t keep the Tigers from scoring on Opening Day. (It wasn’t a save situation, but he is supposed to be the shutdown man this season.) Mark Melancon and Vicente Padilla also stumbled out of the gate.
Let’s see whether these fellas can atone for some previous pitching hiccups today.
3:50 p.m.: Coming up on game time. With a day off between Opening Day and today’s rematch, Josh Beckett’s thumb injury has been getting attention recently. He says he’s fine, and allowing just two earned runs over 19 innings pitched in Spring Training would seem to back that up. We’ll know shortly just how finicky his thumb is.
3:30 p.m.: This is what we’re looking at for lineups today.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Cody Ross, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Mike Aviles, SS
Josh Beckett, P
Austin Jackson, CF
Brennan Boesch, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Alex Avila, C
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Andy Dirks, DH
Ryan Raburn, 2B
Doug Fister, P
8 a.m. ET: After a nail-biting finish to Thursday’s season opener, the Red Sox will look to exact some revenge against the Tigers on Saturday.
Josh Beckett has been tapped to take the hill for Boston. Coming off a strong season, Beckett will be in search of the Red Sox’ first win on the year and maybe some redemption of his own after a rough end to 2011.
Detroit sends fourth-year starter Doug Fister to the mound, as Jim Leyland and the Tigers look to kick off the season with a nice winning streak. Following two medicore seasons in Seattle, Fister really emerged in 2011, improving his control and showing some postseason zen with a pair of wins in Detroit’s trip to the ALCS.
First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m., so tune in the NESN.com live blog for all your up-to-the-minute scores and analysis.