It's Still September for Red Sox Fans
By mid-September last year, a strange phenomenon struck 10's of thousands of Red Sox fans: the question that arose in everyone's mind, "How will they manage to blow this game?". It didn't matter if they were ahead by 1 run or 10, somehow they would lose. The reason for this was obvious: although other problems emerged, it was the collapse of Red Sox pitching that did the most damage in September.
Well, it's still September for Red Sox fans.
Tigers 13, Red Sox 12: Winless Sox still searching for relief
By TIM BRITTON April 9, 2012 Prvidence Journal
DETROIT — The doomsday comparisons will last another day.
This one was the worst loss yet, a sickening bullpen meltdown that made Thursday’s look like a practice drill. The Red Sox blew a three-run lead in the ninth and a two-run advantage in the 11th, bowing to the Tigers, 13-12, in 11 innings on Sunday at Comerica Park.
For the second straight year, Boston begins its season on the wrong end of a sweep.
“Three games isn’t a start,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We have 159 more.”
“It’s one series, man. This is the first one. Even the Yankees got swept,” said Alfredo Aceves, who surrendered Miguel Cabrera’s game-tying three-run homer in the ninth. “Just forget about Detroit.”
The Red Sox would like to banish this memory just as much as they’ve tried to turn the page on the ghosts from last season. They didn’t just lose three games here. Their offense was shut down twice, two of their big three starting pitchers were pummeled and their defense looked shaky. Their bullpen — well, if one has nothing nice to say ...
After Aceves blew the lead in the ninth, Mark Melancon had a chance to earn redemption from Thursday and close it out in the 11th.
One strike away from putting the Red Sox in the win column, Melancon hung a 2-2 curveball to Alex Avila, who turned on the pitch and knocked it off the railing in right for a two-run walkoff winner.
“It was a hanger and he hit it,” Melancon said. “It’s still only three games; I understand that. Today can’t happen.”
Aceves did no better in his first save opportunity of the year, in which he required only seven pitches to blow a three-run lead.
He allowed a looping single to Austin Jackson — the center fielder’s fourth hit of the game and eighth of the series — and an infield hit to Brennan Boesch. Cabrera stepped up as the tying run and promptly acted the part, cracking Aceves’ first-pitch fastball into the seats down the left-field line.
“Yeah, he hit it hard,” said Aceves. “Some days they hit it, some days they don’t.”
Thus, the man tabbed to replace Andrew Bailey as closer has yet to record an out while facing five batters this season. The secondary choice has picked up a pair of walkoff losses, allowing four runs while retiring only three men.
Who takes the hill when the Red Sox next need a save is up in the air.
“We’re trying to figure out what to do. We’ll keep it a work in progress,” said manager Bobby Valentine. “We’re three days into this thing since we lost our closer.”
Asked if Daniel Bard is an option, Valentine replied, “Might be.” Bard is still scheduled to start Tuesday in Toronto.
What about Vicente Padilla, who tossed four scoreless innings on Sunday?
“Who knows? We’re still working things out as we go here,” pitching coach Bob McClure said. “It’s all going to mesh here eventually. We’ll just see how it goes.”
McClure isn’t worried about whether Aceves or Melancon can shake off their early woes.
“If you’ve played the game long enough, it happens,” he said. “I don’t expect anything but good things from them.”
“It would have been nice to get [the save]. It would have been nice to get a win,” said Melancon. “I need to stay aggressive and not let these affect me and keep going — if I can ever sleep.”
In his first start since June, Clay Buchholz was knocked around, lasting only four innings and yielding seven runs. He had not allowed more than five earned runs in his last 42 starts.
The Red Sox lost despite scoring 12 or more runs for the first time since 1970. No team in baseball lost a game when it scored at least a dozen in 2011.
Despite the difficult first series, Boston isn’t quite panicking — yet.
“Everyone wants to get off to a great start. But these guys did it last year, we did it down in Tampa last year,” catcher Kelly Shoppach said. “The standard has been set. It can be done.”
“These guys are professional guys,” said Valentine. “This is a group as good as any I’ve ever been around. They know what they need to do, and I believe they’ll continue to do it.”