Red Sox lose opener to Tigers, 3-2

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Red Sox lose opener to Tigers, 3-2

DETROIT -- On the first day of the 2012 season, Justin Verlander picked up right where he left off in 2011.
So did the Red Sox.
The Tigers' right-hander -- the 2011 A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner -- shut out the Sox on two hits over eight innings and seemed headed for victory when he handed a 2-0 lead to closer Jose Valverde . . . who converted all 49 of his save opportunities last year.
The Red Sox, losers of 20 of their last 27 in the final month of last season, rallied for two runs off Valverde and tied the score. But -- like they did so often last September -- they flubbed away the chance for a stirring victory when the bullpen tag team of Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves gave up the winning run and the Sox dropped their opener, 3-2, Thursday afternoon ay Comerica Park.
Trailing 2-0, Dustin Pedroia led off the ninth with a double to right and moved to third on a single by Adrian Gonzalez. David Ortiz drove him home with a sacrifice fly, making it 2-1.
Valverde seemed poised to close it out when he struck out Kevin Youkilis. But pinch-runner Darnell McDonald stole second and came home on a game-trying triple into the right-field corner by Ryan Sweeney.
Melancon, however, set the stage by allowing one-out singles to Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila. Manager Bobby Valentine called on Aceves, who hit Ramon Santiago to load the bases. And Austin Jackson then shot a hot grounder down the third-base line past Nick Punto for the game-winning hit.
Only once did the Sox manage to get two runners on base in the same inning against Verlander. But he struck out Ortiz with Pedroia on second and Gonzalez on first to end the sixth.
Jon Lester matched Verlander nearly pitch for pitch, but finally blinked in the seventh. With two outs and nobody on, he allowed back-to-back doubles to Peralta and Avila, pushing across the game's first run.
Detroit made it 2-0 in the eighth off Vicente Padilla on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.