The Detroit Tigers celebrate a walk-off victory over Boston, defeating the Red Sox 13-12 in eleven innings and giving Boston an 0-3 start to the 2012 season.
DETROIT (USA TODAY) -- The last time the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees opened a baseball season like this, there was no such thing as the American League East. And Yankees manager Joe Girardi was 1.
The year was 1966, and until Sunday, that was the last time these two powerhouses opened the season with 0-3 records. The Red Sox finished ninth in the American League that year, and the Yankees were last.
"You can't read into that,'' said Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles, whose three hits and three RBI were squandered in the Red Sox's 13-12, 11-inning crushing defeat to the Detroit Tigers. "You're looking at two strong clubs. There's a strong possibility the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will be in the playoffs.''
Well, if the Yankees' offense doesn't improve from their three-hit performance in their 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay, and the Red Sox don't find bullpen answers, the dynamics of the AL East could change. The Yankees still haven't recovered from closer Mariano Rivera's blown save opening day, and the Red Sox have sandwiched two walk-off defeats around a 10-0 loss.
Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves, who has yet to retire a batter in two appearances this season, blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning, and Mark Melancon blew a two-run lead in the 11th.
"We're trying to figure out what to do,'' said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, whose team is off to their second consecutive 0-3 start for the first time since 1931-1933. In fact, the 2011 Red Sox opened 0-6.
"It's a work in progress.'' Said Melancon, one strike away from preserving the Red Sox victory until Alex Avila's two-run homer: "It's only three games. But today cannot happen. We needed to get that one.''
The Yankees, swept by Tampa Bay, haven't been 0-3 since 1998. Of course, that was the year they won 114 games and the World Series title.
"We've all been through three-game losing streaks,'' Girardi said, "but because it's the beginning of the year, it seems to be magnified a bit. This has been a team that over the years has been very resilient. I expect to see that again.''
Still, no one expects the Yankees to steamroll through the division like '98, not with the quality of these teams. Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, fell just one out shy of a complete-game shutout as Tampa Bay completed the sweep.
"In the end, I feel we'll be right there,'' said Red Sox All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, "but our division is a lot tougher. The Blue Jays are a whole lot better. The Rays have good arms. And the Orioles showed what they can do when they took care of us in September.
"It's frustrating, but we'll figure it out.''
Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY