An early-season snapshot of the Boston Red Sox

Boston's Alfredo Aceves looks on in disgust as Detroit's Miguel Cabrera rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run to tie Sunday's game at 10-10 in the ninth. (Duane Burleson/AP)

Although the Boston Red Sox lost game one of the 2012 season in heartbreaking fashion, fans had to love the heart the Red Sox showed in the top of the ninth against Jose Valverde — one of the elite closers in baseball. Ryan Sweeney smacked a triple to tie the game and showed why he was more than just a mere throw-in as part of the Andrew Bailey deal. He won’t always provide such dramatic hits, but fans in Boston will love how he plays the game.

Jon Lester proved he’s the ace of this staff going seven innings, while allowing just one earned run against Detroit. Lester was visibly upset after giving up his sole earned run of the game. The chicken and beer fiasco of last season is clearly behind Lester as he put in a performance that will net the Red Sox wins nine times out of 10. Lester held his own against Justin Verlander, but in the end Verlander’s dominance and Boston’s bullpen proved too much to overcome.

Josh Beckett’s performance in the second game of the season had to make Red Sox fans cringe. It was vintage September 2011. If there wasn’t a possible thumb injury concern with Beckett, Sox fans could just chalk the game up to an early season clunker against a powerful Detroit team. But the question of Beckett’s thumb is there. If there is no thumb injury, Red Sox fans can only hope the thought of the injury doesn’t weaken his psyche. Bobby Valentine said, “Beckett is mentally bruised but physically fine.” But Beckett did see two thumb specialists before his start against Detroit — it sounds as if something is physically wrong with Beckett. If Beckett does indeed have issues with his thumb, perhaps the Red Sox should consider placing him on the 15-day DL to rest his hand and ease his concerns.

Clay Buchholz looked very shaky coming off last year’s back injury. He only went four innings, allowing eight hits and seven runs. There’s no reason to believe Buchholz will be that bad all season, but the Red Sox could’ve used a strong outing from Buchholz, even if just for the overall morale of the team.

The early calls for the Red Sox to aggressively pursue Roy Oswalt were only strengthened by the early struggles of Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon. Although Oswalt is on the back nine of his career and has made it known he’d rather not pitch for Boston in the AL East, the right amount of money could persuade Oswalt to reconsider. The Red Sox could do worse than having Oswalt as a fourth or fifth starter. Peter Gammons recently tweeted, “Proof that Lucchino willing to listen on adding $–he called an NL GM about Oswalt, but was dissuaded from signing him.” If the Red Sox bullpen continues to struggle, it will be interesting to see just how long Lucchino’s dissuasion lasts. Aceves was so bad in the opening series the Red Sox would be remiss to just dismiss even considering Daniel Bard as the closer.

Red Sox fans have no reason to panic when it comes to offense. This team will score runs. The pitching staff is what had fans scared, and those fears became a reality over the first three games.

Stars of series one:

  1. Lester: in seven IPs, allowed only one earned run.
  2. David Ortiz: had five hits, two doubles, two RBIs and two runs.
  3. Franklin Morales: in 2.2 IPs, allowed only one hit while striking out three batters and didn’t give up a run.
  4. Sweeney: His triple in the top of the ninth on opening day against Valverde tied the game.

Duds of series one:

  1. Beckett: in 4.2 innings pitched, he gave up seven hits, seven runs and five HRs
  2. Aceves: in two games, he had one blown save while giving up four hits and allowing three earned runs.
  3. Buchholz: allowed eight hits and seven earned runs in four innings.
  4. Melancon: he already has compiled an 0-2 record, with one blown save and four earned runs allowed in two appearances.

Contributor: Brian Hendrickson

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