DETROIT (CBS) – Opening Day 2012 is in the books for the Red Sox and it was a “mixed emotions” type of start for Boston.
The bottom line is that they fell to the Tigers 3-2 and a loss is not what you’re looking for… they saw 20 of those last September.
However, there were some good signs in this one:
–For all the talk there will be about the new Sox closer Alfedo Aceves failing in his first outing, the Sox got to Tiger closer Jose Valverde for two runs in the 9th inning. Valverde was 49-for-49 in closing situations last season. Dustin Pedroia started things off with a double and later Ryan Sweeney came up with a huge two-out triple to tie things up. Had to feel good for Sweeney and that ball didn’t miss going out by much. And for that matter, Cody Ross drilled a line drive right to short after Sweeney’s triple. That would have driven in the go-ahead run.
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–Jon Lester was impressive. Lester gutted through seven innings giving up just one run. He got double play balls and other big outs when he needed. This was a good sign considering how bad he was in last year’s opener in Texas.
–Meanwhile, I had a beef about the run Lester gave up and in particular, home plate ump Dale Scott. In the 7th inning — with two outs in a scoreless pitching duel between Lester and John Verlander — Lester gave up a double to Jhonny Peralta. Next up was Alex Avila. Lester gets him 1-2 ,then throws a fastball that was bit high even though Lester wanted the call. Next pitch, Lester throws a pitch that was closer, inside near the black of the plate. He has to get that call! Dale Scott has to give him that call. A scoreless game with a great pitching duel going on, a close pitch? You have to, Lester earned that! And, if it was Verlander there, I would feel the same way. Of course, the next pitch goes for an RBI double, 1-0 Tigers.
–I like the way David Ortiz pulled the team together after the game and told them it was just one game. There is plenty to go. I think Ortiz is primed to step in and be a leader with Jason Varitek gone.
— You can’t like the 9th inning for the Sox. Mark Melancon gives up three hard hit balls and gets the hook. A hook he was surprised to get so quickly, and said so after the game. Then your new closer Alfredo Aceves hits a batter — the number-9 batter — and gives up the game-winner. Granted, Aceves wasn’t hit hard, but it would have been nice to set a tone for the season. This bullpen is the weakness for the team coming in. The Sox have a tough April and the starters can only go so long. This is the one thing to watch as we begin this 2012 campaign.
— Not a bad start for the Sox. They rallied against a tough closer and Lester looked good. Now it’s on to Saturday and Josh Beckett. He insists his sore right thumb will be fine and seems to be in great spirits. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t throw well.
Nice to have the season underway. Enjoy the games…….
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