Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers Top Boston Red Sox in Opener with a Walk-off, Win 3-2

By Matt Sullivan

Jon Lester was good, but Justin Verlander was incredible, as the two aces engaged in a thrilling pitching duel at Comerica Park. The Boston Red Sox ace was in and out of trouble all day, allowing the lead-off runner to reach base in 5 of his 7 innings. The Detroit Tigers ace and reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner, Justin Verlander just dominated, allowing just two hits and one walk in eight innings, while striking out seven. Despite the excellent work from the starting pitchers, neither one would factor into the decision, in this thrilling nail biter that took on the intensity of a playoff game by the time the final runs was recorded.

Lester left on the hook for the loss. He pitched seven innings and allowed just one run, as the Tigers scrapped together two back to back doubles against the Red Sox lefty in the seventh to take the lead, but Lester bounced back to strike out Ramon Santiago to end the innings. Lester finished the day with the one run, six hits and three walks against four strikeouts. He got a great deal of help from double play balls, with three on the day.

Verlander needed no help from double plays or his defense. He looked as unhittable as ever, striking out seven Red Sox and allowing just two hits and one walk. His curve ball was devastating and he routinely hit 95-96 with his fastball even in the later innings. The Red Sox threatened just once, when a Dustin Pedroia, line drive got the best of Miguel Cabrera at third base and an Adrian Gonzalez, walk put him in scoring position. Verlander was un-phased and struck out David Ortiz to end the innings.

Verlander was relieved by closer Jose Valverde for the ninth in. The Detroit closer took the mound with a two run lead after Vicente Padilla allowed a lead off triple to Austin Jackson in the eight and Prince Fielder got him home on a sacrifice fly. It wasn’t a big enough lead to today though. Dustin Pedroia fought off a number of pitches from Valverde before lining a double to the right center gap. Adrian Gonzalez singled to the opposite field top move Pedroia over to third and to bring up David Ortiz. Big Papi managed to get the ball into the outfield and bring in Pedroia to cut the lead down to one run with one out. Valverde turned it up a notch and got Kevin Youkilis to strike out to bring up the light hitting Ryan Sweeney. Following a steal from Darnell McDonald, who was running for Gonzalez, Sweeney drove a 2-1 pitch hard down the first base line for an RBI triple. Cody Ross hit the first pitch he saw hard, but it was also hit right at short stop Jhonny Peralta, ending the inning.

Mark Melancon entered the ninth inning with the game all tied up and got the first out with a fly ball from Ryan Raburn. He then let up two back to back singles and got pulled for the new Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves. Aceves career as a closer got off to a strange start as he hit Ramon Santiago on the foot with a curve ball to load the bases. Austin Jackson then singled to end the game and give the Boston Red Sox their first loss of the new season.

Jose Valverde got a vulture win after blowing his first save in 50 chances. Mark Melancon got the loss for the Red Sox.

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