Red Sox Live Blog: Austin Jackson’s Walk-Off Single in Ninth Gives Tigers 3-2 Win on Opening Day


Red Sox Live Blog: Austin Jackson's Walk-Off Single in Ninth Gives Tigers 3-2 Win on Opening DayFinal, Tigers 3-2: If the situation that Alfredo Aceves came on to try and tackle was his first test of the season, he failed.

With runners on first and second with one out, Aceves hit Ramon Santiago with a pitch to load the bases.

From there, it was Austin Jackson who ripped one down the left-field line that allowed Jhonny Peralta to waltz home for the walk-off win to send the Sox to 0-1 on the season.

Bottom 9th, 2-2: Bobby Valentine is turning to his new closer. Mark Melancon struggled in the bottom of the ninth after getting the leadoff man to fly out to right.

A pair of singles later, it’s Alfredo Aceves’ turn. The new closer comes on in a tie game, one out and runners on first and second.

That’s a pretty good test.

Mid 9th, 2-2: Jose Valverde didn’t blow a save all of last season. He has one this season already.

It was an ugly inning for Valverde who gave up a leadoff double to Dustin Pedroia and then a single to Adrian Gonzalez.

Pedroia eventually came around on David Ortiz sacrifice fly. Valverde struck out Kevin Youkilis to get down to the final out, but he hung a splitter to Ryan Sweeney who smoked a line drive off the right-field wall for an RBI triple to tie the game.

End 8th, Tigers 2-0: The Tigers get their insurance run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly.

Morales came in to face Fielder, and made a nice pitch, but Jacoby Ellsbury wasn’t able to throw out Austin Jackson after making the catch in center. It certainly didn’t help that Ellsbury’s throw hit the back of the mound causing it to bounce in the air.

The animated Jose Valverde — who was 49-for-49 in save opportunities last season — comes on for the ninth.

Bottom 8th, Tigers 1-0: Vicente Padilla’s Red Sox tenure doesn’t get off to a very good start at all.

The veteran right-hander was greeted by Austin Jackson who tagged one to right that was helped by Ryan Sweeney who was spun around while trying to make the catch. The result was a leadoff triple.

Padilla was able to get Brennan Boesch to ground out to short for the first out before Bobby Valentine elected to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera.

From there, Valentine called on Franklin Morales who comes on to face Prince Fielder with one out and runners on first and third.

Mid 8th, Tigers 1-0: Jarrod Saltalamacchia comes to the plate to begin the eighth and promptly swings at the first pitch and flies out to center on a changeup.

It was a good pitch by Verlander, but you’d like to see a little more patience from a hitter when a pitcher is working in his eigth inning of work.

Verlander builds off of that, needing just 10 pitches to get through the eighth.

He’s likely done after eight innings and 105 innings, but he’s a horse, so you never known.

End 7th, Tigers 1-0: The Tigers strike first, and the offense comes from an unlikely source.

Jhonny Peralta doubled with two outs to extend the inning, and he came around when Lester left a ball up that Alex Avila took the other way for an RBI double.

Lester didn’t get the benefit of a call on a borderline pitch to Avila earlier in the bat, but if he wants to truly be considered an ace, he has to overcome that and make a better pitch to Avila.

He didn’t, though, and the Tigers lead 1-0.

Mid 7th, 0-0: Justin Verlander is a lot like Pedro Martinez in that every pitch he has is dominant, but no pitch has been better for Verlander through seven innings than his curveball.

The Tigers ace has dropped the sharp breaking ball into the zone all afternoon, and he used it to pick up two more strikeouts in the seventh.

Verlander has eight strikeouts on the day, and six of them have been on that power curve.

End 6th, 0-0: It’s pretty safe to assume that Jon Lester lead MLB pitchers in double plays forced once this day is over.

Lester just induced his third double play of the afternoon, this one coming against Prince Fielder. Lester walked Miguel Cabrera after having him down 0-2, but he was able to make a pitch and get Fielder to hit a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop where Mike Aviles took it himself for the unassisted DP.

Mid 6th, 0-0: Justin Verlander just did his best Jon Lester impression, as the reigning Cy Young and MVP worked out of his own jam.

Verlander got David Ortiz to flail at 12-to-6 curveball to get out of the inning, stranding runners at first and second.

Dustin Pedroia reached on what was initially ruled a signal — later changed to an error on Miguel Cabrera — and Adrian Gonzalez walked to set up the Sox’ best scoring opportunity of the day.

However, Verlander got nasty and kept this at a scoreless tie through five and a half.

End 5th, 0-0: Another tremendous job by Jon Lester to work out of trouble in the fifth inning.

This time, it was a leadoff single followed by a walk, but like he did in the fourth, Lester was able to bear down to keep it scoreless.

Alex Avila helped by failing to move the runner over with a bunt before striking out for the inning’s first out. He then got a popout and a flyout on a 3-2 pitch to get out of the inning unscathed.

Lester is at 76 pitches through five innings.

Mid 5th, 0-0: The Red Sox finally break Verlander’s streak of 10 straight retired, but they can’t do anything with a one-out single from Ryan Sweeney.

Cody Ross followed by giving one a ride to deep right field, but it was grabbed just shy of the warning track by Brennan Boesch.

It was weird to say the least to see a dead-pull hitter like Cody Ross hit a deep fly ball to the opposite field.

End 4th, 0-0: Real solid job done by Jon Lester in the fourth inning after he issued a one-out, four-pitch walk to Miguel Cabrera.

Lester looked to get squeezed in the Cabrera at-bat, and it looked like he might be ready to slip into his “one bad inning mode.”

However, give him credit. Lester went right after Prince Fielder and froze him with a fastball on the black on the outside corner for the strike out. He was then able to get in on Delmon Young’s hand with a 92 mph fastball that produced a lazy popout to Adrian Gonzalez in foul territory to end the inning.

Mid 4th, 0-0: It’s pretty tough to talk about Justin Verlander over the course of a game without repeating yourself. He just breezed through another 1-2-3 inning, this time getting Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in order.

Verlander was able to strike out Gonzalez with an nasty 12-to-6 curveball that came in at 80 mph. That’s just unfair when you know you might see a 97 mph fastball which forces you to give up on something that looks like a ball right out of the hand, which is exactly what it looked like just happened.

End 3rd, 0-0: For the third straight inning, Jon Lester allows the leadoff man to reach. But for the third straight inning, he’s able to work around it with no damage.

While Lester didn’t get a double play like he did in the first, Lester was a step ahead the Tigers bats, getting Ramon Santiago and Austin Jackson to pop out to end the inning.

It will be interesting to see if Lester starts working some offspeed stuff in as he goes through the lineup a second time. He’s been heavy on fastball and cutters so far, and really, there’s not a ton of reason to change. His cutter has been downright unhittable. Expect to see more curveballs and changeups going forward, but he’s definitely going to lean on that cutter this afternoon.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Justin Verlander is locked in early on, and he keeps getting better.

He’s retired six in a row now, including three of those by way of strikeouts. He got two of those K’s in the third by just blowing away Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles with fastballs.

He then threw an 86 mph that Jacoby Ellsbury rolled over to first base to end the inning.

End 2nd, 0-0: Jon Lester has the double play ball going on early. He’s been the beneficiary of the pitcher’s best friend in each of his first two innings, this time overcoming a Prince Fielder leadoff single to get Delmon Young to bounce into the 6-4-3 twin killing.

Lester then struck out Ryan Raburn with an unhittable cutter for his first strikeout of the season.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: David Ortiz gets the first Red Sox hit of the season — a leadoff double — but he’s stranded at third as Verlander works out of trouble.

Verlander got a pair of groundouts from Kevin Youkilis and Ryan Sweeney before freezing Cody Ross with a filthy curveball.

Verlander is already dialing it up, hitting as high as 98 on the gun making his ability to drop the hammer on Ross that much more unfair.

End 1st, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia is just so good at what he does. It was an ominous beginning as Austin Jackson singled on Jon Lester’s first pitch, but the left-handed ace was able to induce a ground ball in the next at-bat.

Pedroia got cleaned out at second base by Jackson with a good, hard slide, but Pedroia held his ground and was able to get off a good throw to get Brennan Boesch by a step.

Lester then retired Miguel Cabrera (no small task) by inducing a broken-bat lineout to Kevin Youkilis at third.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Justin Verlander picks right up where he left off last season with a scoreless frame to open the new season.

Verlander was able to get three lazy pop-ups to send the Sox down in order.

It only took Verlander nine pitches to do so. The right-hander was working at around 93 mph, but expect that number to go up as the game goes on, as Verlander only gets stronger the deeper he goes.

1:10 p.m.: Justin Verlander’s first pitch of 2012 is a strike to Jacoby Ellsbury, and we’re under way.

Welcome back, baseball.

1 p.m.: Al Kaline just threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and it was just a bit outside.

Real, actual baseball in just a few precious moments.

12:45 p.m.: We’re about 20 minutes from first pitch, as player introductions are going on at Comerica Park. There’s techno being played right now. In Detroit. It makes no sense.

For those interested, Haley Reinhart will be singing the national anthem. She was onAmerican Idol. At least that’s what the kids are saying.

12:30 p.m.: It’s been 26 years since the Red Sox last opened the season in Detroit. The last time they did so was in 1986, and Dwight Evans opened the season with a blast.

Dewey took the first Jack Morris offering of the season into the left-center seats to give the Sox a very early lead. Detroit actually came back to win, but the Red Sox found their share of success in ’86 despite that Opening Day setback.

12 p.m.: My sources ( tell me that it’s going to be somewhat raw in the Motor City for this one. All things considered — like considering it’s Detroit in April — it won’t be too bad, though.

The forecast calls for cloudy skies, but a manageable high of about 44 degrees. That number is expected to climb some as the afternoon goes on, and the sun should make an appearance.

What does that mean for the actual baseball game? Well, it probably won’t be easy to hit — especially against Justin Verlander and Jon Lester. There may be some issues when it comes to throwing offspeed stuff, as gripping the ball is a little more difficult when it’s colder. But like we said, it really won’t bethat cold all things considered.

11:50 a.m.: Red Sox fans can’t wait for 1:05 to get here for obvious reasons. Tigers fans are pretty excited, too, though.

That’s because Thursday marks the beginning of what the Tigers hope is a very successful relationship between the team and new first baseman Prince Fielder.

Fielder got nine years and more than $200 million this offseason to follow in his father’s footsteps at first base in Detroit. He’ll obvious provide a big help offensively for a Tigers team that is without Victor Martinez due to a knee injury.

Fielder also gives the Tigers one of, if not the best 3-4 combo in all of baseball. Miguel Cabrera, arguably the best right-handed hitter in the game, will man the three-hole with Fielder following up. They’re going to cause some headaches for teams in the AL Central, a division that they really should win going away this season.

11:15 a.m.: If you can’t wait the 15 minutes or so for wall-to-wall coverage to begin on NESN, allow us to help kill some time.

Here are some Opening Day-related links from the last day at beat reporter Didier Morais checks in with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, as the Sox get ready for the season.

Didier also spoke with assistant editor Luke Hughes in this week’s Red Sox podcast. Among the topics discussed: pretty much everything.

Assistant editor Jen Slothower takes a look at the many faces of Bobby Valentine.

Assistant editor/NESN Nation extraordinaire Dan Duquette Jr. breaks down the move of Aflredo Aceves to the bullpen and why it could be the key to shoring up the Boston bullpen.

Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross chatted with on Wednesday, and you can get a full wrap of that by clicking here.

Finally, yours truly tries to explain why the Red Sox need a better start this season, but it certainly won’t be easy with the April schedule they face.

11 a.m.: We now have Detroit’s Opening Day lineup.

Austin Jackson, CF
Brennan Boesch, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Ryan Raburn, DH
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Alex Avila, C
Ramon Santiago, 2B

Justin Verlander, P

Also, if you’re not stuck in a cube right now, NESN’s Opening Day coverage begins in just 30 minutes.

10:30 a.m.: You already know what the Red Sox lineup looks like, but if  you want a little bit more detailed breakdown of that starting nine, you can click here.

One thing that may stand out is Jon Lester’s success — or lack thereof — against the Tigers.

He enters his Opening Day start with an 0-2 career mark against Detroit to go along with a 5.89 ERA. He’s allowed 12 runs in 18 1/3 innings against Jim Leyland’s bunch, including surrendering four runs in seven innings in his only start at Comerica Park back in May 2010.

9:45 a.m.: We’re a little more than three hours from first pitch (and less than two hours from on-air NESN coverage), and we have the first Red Sox lineup of 2012.

Here’s how the Sox will start Game One.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Cody Ross, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Mike Aviles, SS

Jon Lester, P

8 a.m. ET: The number is 179. That’s how many days it’s been since the Red Sox last played a regular season game, and everyone remembers how that went.

The Sox get to finally turn the page on Thursday afternoon in Detroit, as it’s a holiday across New England, as Opening Day 2012 is finally upon us.

It certainly will not be easy for Boston to get out on the winning foot to open the Bobby Valentine era. That’s because the Tigers will have Justin Verlander standing on the Comerica Park mound when the season begins. The flame-throwing right-hander is coming off one of the best seasons since the days of Pedro Martinez, a 2011 campaign that earned him the Cy Young and the AL MVP. Unsurprisingly, it marks the first time in a long time since the Sox opened the season against a reigning MVP on the mound. Ninety-eight seasons to be exact, against some guy named Walter Johnson.

The Sox, meanwhile, will turn to their ace, Jon Lester. The big lefty got the ball on Opening Day last season as well, but that was a rough afternoon for him in Texas. He’ll be looking to avenge that on Thursday against a vaunted Detroit lineup that added Prince Fielder this offseason.

We’ll have updates throughout the day here at, but you can also tune in to NESN beginning at 11:30 a.m. for pregame coverage with all of the Opening Day ceremonies leading up to the start of the new season.

That start will come via Verlander’s big right arm at 1:05.

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