BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox are 0-3 for the second straight season, the first time that’s happened since 1933.
Most of the blame for their weekend of horrors in Detroit can be put on the bullpen, which walked off the field with their heads down twice in the first three games.
Dealing with closer Andrew Bailey’s absence has proved to be difficult for Bobby Valentine and the Sox, with interim closer Alfredo Aceves and set-up man Mark Melancon failing in each of their two go-arounds in Motown.
“We’re trying to figure out what to do,” Valentine said after Sunday’s embarrassing 13-12 loss to the Tigers, completing the weekend sweep. “We’ll keep it a work in progress. We’re three games into this thing, since we lost our closer.”
Melancon finds himself and early 0-2 on the season after getting the loss on both opening day and in Sunday’s 13-12 disappointment. He’s pitched just one inning this season, allowing four runs on five hits. After saying he was surprised at the quick hook Valentine gave him opening day, the 27-year-old righty reliever served up the game-winning home run to Alex Avila on Sunday.
Mark Melancon Post
“It was a hanging curveball. It was a hanger and he hit it,” Melancon said after the game. “Today can’t happen.”
As bad as Melancon has been, Boston’s fill-in closer can’t seem to get anyone out. Aceves has been on the mound twice this season and has yet to record an out, allowing three singles, a home run, and hitting a batter.
While Red Sox nation has little faith in the bullpen in the early going, the locker room still does.
“These guys are professional guys. These guys are as professional a group of guys I’ve been around. They know what they have to do and I believe they’ll continue to do it,” said Valentine.
“We have confidence in every one of our guys. That’s a good team over there; they have some studs. We’ll figure it out, we’re three games in,” Dustin Pedroia said after going 2-for-6 with an RBI in the three-hole on Sunday. “When Andrew went down there was some uncertainty on roles and stuff like that, but that stuff will figure itself out.”
Although they were on the mound for both of the walk-off losses during Boston’s opening series, the bullpen certainly isn’t completely to blame for the opening series sweep. The Red Sox bats couldn’t do anything against Justin Verlander on Thursday or any of Detroit’s pitchers on Saturday , and Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz were both brutal in his their first starts of the season.
And the bullpen has actually gotten solid performances from the likes of Franklin Morales and Vicente Padilla, who both had stellar outings on Sunday combining for six innings of scoreless relief. Padilla went four innings on Sunday for his longest relief appearance in over a decade, while Morales has surrendered just one hit over 2.2 innings while striking out three.
If only they could figure out what to do in the ninth inning.
So while Valentine and the Red Sox try to figure out what their bullpen situation is, their relievers will go out and try to get their job done. Boston opens a three-game series with division rival Toronto on Monday before heading home to Fenway for the first time this season, hosting the Rays for four.
The team would like to have their first victory by then, and the bullpen would like to be a part of it.
“It just comes down to making good pitches and I didn’t do that,” said Melancon. “I need to stay aggressive; not let these affect me and keep going. If I can ever sleep”
So it seems, the nightmares have already begun for the 2012 Red Sox…