Detroit ends seven-game skid with 7-2 win over Sox
After generating just 15 runs combined over its first seven losses, Detroit tagged Boston’s pitchers for 10 hits, en route to a 7-2 victory before a Fenway crowd of 3,7190.
Jon Lester’s debut against the Tigers was a rocky one. Failing to record at least one strike out for the first time in 29 games (28 starts), he dropped to 1-2 after giving up four runs, all of them earned, on four hits over 5.1 innings.
Meanwhile, Detroit right-hander Jeremy Bonderman – who entered last night’s game with a 5.68 ERA - extended his winning streak against the Sox to four games, scattering five hits over five innings for his first victory of the 2008 campaign.
-- Curt Schilling remains in the background, continuing his rehabilitation on his ailing right shoulder. Manager Terry Francona said The Big Schill is chomping at the bit to play catch, the first in a series of many steps toward returning to the mound, but that he is "not there" just yet in the estimation of Mike Reinhold, the team's rehab co-ordinator and assistant trainer.
-- Jacoby Ellsbury is back in the starting lineup in center field, putting Coco Crisp back on the bench.
A look at the box scores would indicate that the two are being platooned, with Ellsbury starting against right-handed pitching and Crisp starting against left-handers, but Francona said that when they have played has partly been determined by various circumstances, such as days off. Francona said he doesn't want either one to sit for an extended period of time this early in the year.
-- David Ortiz is batting a woeful .103 (3 for 29) with one homer and three RBI. He did just miss crushing a grand slam into the right-field corner when his drive into the wind fell short Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park, but Francona said Ortiz's "foundation" at the plate isn't quite where the designated hitter would like it to be just yet.
Francona didn't seem to think his early season struggles are strictly a function of the offseason surgery Ortiz underwent to repair damage in his right knee.
Bartolo Colon, who felt discomfort from a strained right oblique at some point after his start for Pawtucket last week, was examined by Boston's training staff today.
The portly right-hander is "still a little bit tender," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
"That's not unexpected. He will not be allowed to (throw) until he is not tender," said Francona. "We'll turn a negative into a positive and he can do extra cardio work until he can get back into a throwing role."
Francona didn't directly answer the question of whether Colon has shed a few pounds since signing with the Sox this spring as a free agent. He indicated weight isn't the most important issue with Colon's conditioning.
"We just want to get him into the best pitching shape we can so he can repeat his delivery," said Francona.
Francona said Colon has been bothered by a similar oblique injury twice in his career. One time it kept him out of action for seven days; the other time it forced him to the sidelines for 20 days.
-The Red Sox are 3-0 in games played in the United States, and 1-4 in games played outside the country.
-Kevin Youkilis is 9 for 18 over is hast five games and is now ninth in the American League in batting average, at .400.
-J.D. Drew has a 10-game hitting streak dating back to last season, during which he is batting .432 with three home runs.
-Tonight is Dominican Heritage Night at Fenway; the Dominican national anthem will be played along with the U.S. anthem before the game.
-The Red Sox have won 17 of their last 21 games against Detroit at Fenway Park.
-Tuesday's win was the Red Sox' 1000th all-time against the Tigers; they also have 1,000-plus wins all-time over the Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns and the Oakland/Kansas City/Philadelphia Athletics.
-Jonathan Papelbon has struck out the last six batters he has faced.
-Jeremy Bonderman has won his last three decisions against the Red Sox.
Tigers vs. Jon Lester
-Lester has never faced the Tigers, and only two Detroit hitters have faced Lester: Miguel Cabrera is 1 for 3 lifetime; Edgar Renteria is 0 for 2 lifetime with a walk.
Red Sox vs. Jeremy Bonderman
-Sean Casey, 2 for 2 (1.000), BB
-Dustin Pedroia, 2 for 4 (.500), 2B, 3B
-Kevin Cash, 2 for 5 (.400), 2 2B
-Manny Ramirez, 5 for 16 (.313), 2B, HR, 3 BB
-J.D. Drew, 2 for 7 (.286), 3B, BB
-Julio Lugo, 3 for 11 (.273)
-Coco Crisp, 10 for 42 (.238), 3 2B
-Alex Cora, 3 for 14 (.214), 3B, BB
-David Ortiz, 4 for 21 (.190), 2B, HR, 5 BB
-Jason Varitek, 2 for 12 (.167), 2B, 3 BB
-Kevin Youkilis, 0 for 9, 2 BB
-Mike Lowell, 0 for 9
-Bonderman is 3-4 with a 4.58 E.R.A in nine career starts against the Red Sox
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The Opening Day victory
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. He discusses the struggling Tigers, Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Bill Buckner.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the Tigers: "I think it's O.K. to get worried now, if you're Jim Leyland. When you go more than a week into the season and are still without your first win, then that spells trouble, particularly when you're in a division with a team that came within a few outs of the pennant last year -- the Indians -- and other teams that are kind of upstarts, like the Royals."
Matsuzaka attacking the hitters: "I think the problem last year came when he got himself in a situation where he fell behind so often that he was throwing the fastball on hitter's counts, and of course that spells trouble for a pitcher. But they clearly seem to try [this year] to get ahead more with the fastball and let other pitches do the work once he does that."
J.D. Drew's fast start: "If you go back and look at his April last year, the first two or three weeks were pretty good. And the hope if you're the Red Sox is that he continues that hot start this season, and doesn't dip the way he did last year."
On the Buckner tribute: "I thought the time to have Buckner back would have been for the 2005 ceremony, when you're trying to wash away all the sins of the past and put all the curse stuff behind you. To me, yesterday, it seemed out of place. I think the 2007 world championship that they were celebrating yesterday, and I don't want to classify it as just another championship, but it seemed to me that the time for that would have been a few years ago. And I think people forget that Buckner has already been forgiven, back in 1990 when he returned as a player for the second part of his career with the Red Sox. I thought it was a little bit of wallowing in the Red Sox' tragic past, when they should have put all of that behind them."
Tonight it's back to normal: 7:05 p.m. start, no pregame ceremonies, nothing but baseball. McAdam sums it up perfectly: "Today is New Year's Day, the first day of the rest of the baseball season."
BUCKED UP: The Red Sox' uniformed personnel liked all the pomp and circumstance -- the flag over the left-field wall, the handing out of championship rings, the Boston Pops, the flyover, the raising of the 2007 World Series championship pennant -- but the part of the day that touched them the most was the reception received by Buckner. Kevin Youkilis and Terry Francona share their thoughts with McDonald.
BIGGER AND BETTER: Curt Schilling lines up his four championship rings -- from the 2007, '04 and '01 World Series, and the 1993 NLCS -- and shows how they seem to grow each time. (38pitches.com)
THANKS: The slumping Tigers, now an incredible 0-7, may have been the best Opening Day medicine the Sox could have received. Krasner details some of their gaffes and shortcomings in his Inside The Game feature, and talked with Jim Leyland about their struggles afterwards. He also talked to David Ortiz and Mike Lowell, who say the Tigers are too good to continue to play this bad.
MINOR DEAL: Christian Lara was once regarded as the Red Sox' top shortstop prospect. But after six struggling minor-league seasons in which he seems to have stalled at Class A -- during which time his star was eclipsed by Jed Lowrie -- the Sox gave up on him, shipping him to the Dodgers for reliever Eric Hull. (mlb.com) Hull's address for most of this summer is likely to be One Ben Mondor Way, Pawtucket.
CLOSING UP: When Hull gets to the PawSox bullpen, he'll find the closer's role being handled not by prospect Craig Hansen or big-league veteran Dan Kolb, but surprise choice Lee Gronkiewicz. Paul Kenyon profiles the unlikely anchor of the Pawtucket relief corps.
PARTY'S OVER: The festive atmosphere at yesterday's sold-out home opener in St. Petersburg -- where Rays fans have hope for the first time since, well, ever -- was tempered by a) a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Mariners and b) the loss of highly regarded right-handed Matt Garza, who left the game in the third inning and went immediately to the disabled list because of radial nerve irritation. (St. Petersburg Times)
MOVING FORWARD: Kevin Lidle, twin brother of the late Cory Lidle -- the Yankee pitcher who was killed in a plane crash in October 2006 -- is back in baseball as a scout for the Marlins. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)