Sox bullpen in the middle of team's first loss

Sox bullpen in the middle of team's first loss
April 6, 2012, 1:06 am
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DETROIT -- After all the upheaval in the Red Sox bullpen over the last week, it was almost inevitable that the club's relievers would play a role -- one way or another -- in Boston's season opener against the Tigers.

Sure enough, they did. And not in a way the Sox would have liked.

Following Jon Lester's seven-inning outing in which he allowed just one run, the bullpen figured in a big way to the 3-2 walkoff loss to Detroit.

The combination of Vicente Padilla and Franklin Morales resulted in a run in the eighth before Mark Melancon and newly-minted closer Alfredo Aceves combined to allow the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Padilla allowed a leadoff triple to Austin Jackson in the eighth, and after a groundout, walked Miguel Cabrera intentionally. With Prince Fielder due next, Bobby Valentine went to the lefthanded Morales, who got Fielder to hit a weak fly ball to shallow center.

Ellsbury charged the ball, but his throw hit the mound and caromed off line as Jackson scored, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

After the Sox had rallied off closer Jose Valverde to score twice and tie the game, Valentine went with Melancon, who quickly gave up back-to-back one-out singles, putting the potential winning run in scoring position.

"It was a tie game on the road,'' explained Valentine. "So Melancon's was going to get the inning out and as soon as it got to be a jeopardy situation, I wanted to try and close the door with the last guy who's going to be the closer.''

Melancon was asked if he had been given a quick hook by his manager.

"Yeah, a little bit,'' he said. "But (second-guessing the manager) isn't my job. My job is to get outs.''

That became Aceves's job, too, thought Valentine conceded that he thought about allowing Aceves to start the inning fresh.

"But with the righthanders coming up,'' Valentine said, "I didn't think there was any reason Mark couldn't start that inning.''

Valentine conceded, however, that bringing in his closer (Aceves) into a tie game on the road was "not very'' customary.

"Same approach all the time,'' offered Aceves. "I'm trying to get the hitters out. It doesn't matter if its the ninth or the eighth... The manager has to make his own decision and we have to be out there ready to help. That's the way I think.''

Aceves inherited a first-and-second jam with one out, then made matters worse when a tailing breaking ball caught Ramon Santiago's foot, loading the bases.

That brought Jackson to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Valentine moved the infield in, but Jackson was able to slap a single just past the reach of third baseman Nick Punto.

"I wanted to get ahead (in the count),'' said Aceves, "which I did, and get a ground ball. Make him make contract and put the ball in play and see what happens.''

What happened was a game-winning, walkoff single, and the Red Sox bullpen, in the middle of the news for the last week, was in the middle of the team's first loss of the season.