April 8, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles (right) receives congratulations from starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) after scoring on a balk by Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (not pictured) during the third inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Red Sox Lose "Battle of the Bullpens"


If I had told you at 12:30 this afternoon the Red Sox would breakout for 12 runs and still lose the game, you would have had trouble believing it right? Well folks, it happened and it wasn’t pretty.

It’s no secret that Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox have some flaws down in their bullpen but who would have thought the “top two” arms would blow not one–but two leads on their way to another heartbreaking loss?

From the outset things were ugly for the boys from Beantown. Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz pitched miserably, giving up four runs in the Tigers’ first trip to the plate and another three in the outing before Vicente Padilla replaced him to start the fifth. The Sox’ righty-coming back from a stress fracture in his back-threw 39 pitches in that first inning and only 78 total before the early hook.

Tigers starter Max Scherzer was even worse. Scherzer gave up 8H, 2BB and 7 ER in just 2 2/3 innings pitched. The Sox and Tigers bullpens threw a combined 15 innings in the game.

The Sox’ bullpen ERA so far in ’11? How about 7.94 in 11 1/3 IP.

Miguel Cabrera continued to beat up on Sox pitching in the game with an RBI single in the first, a sac fly in the second and a monster 3 run homer off Red Sox “closer” Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 10. The duo of Cabrera and Prince Fielder already looks like the new version of Big Papi and Manny Ramirez. It’s scary to say the least.

After the Red Sox were able to strike for a pair in the top half of the 11th, Bobby Valentine called on Mark Melancon to put this one in the books. Unfortunately Melancon’s starting to look like the 2012 version of Bobby Jenks–a setup reliever who came to the AL East and got shelled.

After a pair of one out singles and a wild pitch put runners on the corners, Delmon Young was able to lift a fly ball deep enough to score Miguel Cabrera from third and bring Alex Avila to the plate with two outs. The Tigers catcher welcomed Melancon to the AL by crushing his curveball and bouncing it off the railings in right field at Comerica Park for a walk off two run homer.

There were two bright spots for the Red Sox in this game, the offense awoke and Vicente Padilla was excellent in a four inning relief appearance.

Padilla was the lone bright spot in what was otherwise a disaster from a pitching standpoint. The former Dodgers opening day starter looked calm and collected on the mound while producing a stellar line-4 IP, 2H, 0ER, 0BB, 4K

Mike Aviles and Nick Punto each had 3 RBI in the game and Adrian Gonzalez had 2 but it wasn’t enough to provide a sufficient lead for this shaky bullpen-something that could be a frequent problem for the Sox if they can’t find a way to lock down the late innings.

If you’re reading this with your hand on the panic button, I beg you to slowly remove it and place it back on your computer desk. It’s too early to panic. It’s too early to fire Bobby V. It’s too early to trade Josh Beckett and it’s way too early to give up on these guys based on a series sweep at the hands of perhaps the AL’s best team.

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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Alex Avila Alfredo Aceves Bobby Valentine Clay Buchholz Mark Melancon Max Scherzer Miguel Cabrera Mike Aviles Nick Punto Prince Fielder Red Sox Tigers Vicente Padilla

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