Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lester Good, Verlander Better As Tigers Edge Sox In Opening Day Duel (0-1)

Lester threw seven strong innings
It could be seen a mile away that this game was going to be a pitcher's duel and it certainly lived up to expectations. Neither team scored until the seventh inning-- when Alex Avila knocked an RBI double just out of the reach of scrambling left fielder Cody Ross. This chased Jon Lester out of the game-- but he certainly had a good one. He threw seven strong innings, allowing six hits and for the most part had his best stuff. He did walk three but he did a very good job of working out of jams-- the Tigers grounded into three double plays and Lester always seemed to have the right pitch when he needed it most. The Red Sox bullpen corps were not so fortunate as the Tigers scored another run in the eighth inning when the Tigers got two runners on base off Vicente Padilla, then a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly off Franklin Morales netted the Tigers a 2-0 lead. After these few runs, Tigers' manager was confident enough to remove Justin Verlander from the game and open the doors for closer Jose Valverde-- who saved 49 games in 49 chances last season.

Lester also worked three double plays
However, the Red Sox didn't seem to mind last season's perfection as Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double and Adrian Gonzalez singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. David Ortiz flew out to center, and Pedroia tagged up to make it 2-1 Tigers. Kevin Youkilis struck out and with only a runner at first, the chances of scoring looked bleak for the Red Sox. However, Darnell McDonald entered to pinch run for Gonzalez and promptly stole second with Ryan Sweeney at the plate. Sweeney worked the at bat into a 2-1 count before lining a high fastball to right and off the wall. The ball caromed past Detroit right fielder Brennan Boesch and when the dust settled, Sweeney had an RBI triple to tie the game. However, everything came undone in the bottom of the ninth. Back-to-back one out singles for Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila put two runners on base off Mark Melancon. Melancon was pulled in favor of Alfredo Aceves, who promptly hit Ramon Santiago to load the bases with one out. With a 2-1 count, Austin Jackson pulled a hard ground ball by Nick Punto at third to win the game in dramatic fashion for the Tigers.

Bright Spots:
Jon Lester- 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia- 1-4, 1 run, 1 double, reached base on an error as well
Adrian Gonzalez- 1-3, 1 walk
David Ortiz- 1-3, 1 double, 1 sacrifice fly
Ryan Sweeney- 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 triple

Dull Spots:
Mark Melancon- 0.1 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, the loss (0-1)
Jacoby Ellsbury- 0-4
Kevin Youkilis- 0-4, 2 strikeouts, 2 left on base
Cody Ross- 0-4, 1 strikeout, 3 left on base
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-3, 1 strikeout, 1 left on base
Mike Aviles- 0-3, 1 strikeout

Player of the Game:
Jon Lester- Battled against one of the best teams in baseball. He didn't earn the win but if Justin Verlander wasn't so dominant he almost certainly would have. Great start for Lester.

No comments:

Post a Comment