Douglas Benton. 9th April, 2012 - 5:10 pm
One of the marquee series to start the 2012 season was the Boston Red Sox traveling to play one of the World Series favorites in the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers swept the three-game set, including two wins in the final at-bats.
Justin Verlander, the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner, got off to a great start in going eight shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and one walk while striking out seven. With overpowering stuff, he challenged Boston hitters throughout and threw first pitch strikes to 18 of 28 hitters. He was dealt a hard luck no-decision though.
There was some spring training concern with Miguel Cabrera switching to third base and injury woes didn't help calm the worries. While defense remains a question, the bat is a near certainty after going 5-for-11 with three home runs, eight RBI and three opening day walks. He is hitting in front of new first baseman Prince Fielder (5-for-12) to form a potent middle of the order.
Doug Fister left Saturday's game after 3.2 innings on Saturday and was placed on the 15 day DL with a left costochondral strain. Expected to build off of a good 2011 season and complement Verlander as the No. 2 starter, this is an injury worth watching.
Boston Red Sox
The backend of the bullpen is a major issue for Boston. The spring training injury to Andrew Bailey has forced Alfredo Aceves into the closer's role. The 29 year old right hander has given up four hits, including a home run, and three runs without getting an out. Tigers hitters made a living attacking Aceves early. Out of the five batters he faced, he threw just 14 pitches.
This series was a showcase of elite first basemen with Fielder versus Boston's Adrian Gonzalez. The left-handed hitter finished 5-for-13 with a home run on Sunday. He will need another MVP type season to pair with David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis for Boston's offense to click.
As good as Jon Lester looked on Thursday (seven innings pitched, six hits, one run, three walks and four strikeouts), Josh Beckett looked just as bad on Saturday (4.2 innings pitched, seven hits, seven runs, a walk, three strikeouts). Lester was consistently ahead of hitters in being overpowering at times with 13 swings and misses. Beckett was behind hitters with just 12 of 23 batters seeing first pitch strikes and giving up five home runs. Not the combination new manager Bobby Valentine needs.