After a day off yesterday to recover from their heartbreaking defeat on Opening Day, Boston barely showed up to play this afternoon against Detroit. The pitching stunk, the hitters did nothing, and the defense made two errors. A terrible game any way you slice it for the Sox, who suffered a 10-0 beatdown to Detroit on national TV. The Tigers mauled them, inflicting the majority of their damage with the long ball. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the most lethal 3-4 duo in all of baseball, each belted a pair of dingers and chased Josh Beckett from the game with back-to-back two-out bombs in the bottom of the fifth. By then the Tigers had already built up a 7-0 lead (all runs scored via the homer), but they added three more off the Boston bullpen for good measure. The Tigers lineup tallied twelve hits in all and already looks to be in midseason form.
Beckett, who dealt with a right thumb issue during camp, was anything but sharp in his first regular season start of 2012. The 31 year-old came down with a nasty case of gopheritis that triggered flashbacks to his 2006, when opponents took him deep 36 times, by serving up five home runs (two to Miggy, another two to Prince, and one to Alex Avila). He just wasn't locating the ball well today and left too many hittable pitches up in the zone/over the plate. His curveball, which can be his most effective pitch, didn't seem to have its usual snap. It was a bad start against a top-notch offense, and that's gonna happen. Perhaps he's still getting used to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, since it was just the fourth time the two have worked together. The recently retired Jason Varitek was more or less Beckett's personal catcher, so Beckett will have to adjust to life without the Captain calling his pitches. It's also worth noting that he's been an every-other-year guy for his whole career, so he could be due for a fall this season coming off a very productive 2011 that fell apart in September.
But Beckett didn't get any run support. Aside from their spirited ninth inning rally on Opening Day, the Red Sox offense has been dismal thus far. They've failed to score in seventeen of their first eighteen innings and have yet to hit a home run. Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Cody Ross, and Mike Aviles are still searching for their first hit of the season. The Olde Towne Team seemed to catch a break when Doug Fister was forced to leave the game during the fourth inning with a strained left side, forcing Jim Leyland to go to his bullpen much sooner than anticipated. Middle-relievers like Duane Below and Phil Coke should have been easy targets for Boston's big bats. But the pen picked up where Fister left off, blanking the Red Sox across the final five and one-third innings to seal the win. Boston whiffed eleven times today, and despite putting nine men on base they were still shut out, mostly because they came up empty with runners in scoring position (0 for 5), managed just one extra base hit (a Jarrod Saltalamacchia double) and bounced into a pair of twin killings (thanks for nothing Youk and Ross, who went a combined 0 for 8 with four K's and those two GIDPs). I'm not worried about the hitting, though. It will come around, and when it does this team is going to score plenty of runs.
Tomorrow Bobby Valentine's boys turn to Clay Buchholz, making his first start since June 16th of last year, to stop the bleeding as they try to escape the Motor City with a win before traveling north of the border to play the Blue Jays. He faces Max Scherzer, who can be hit or miss.