Found April 04, 2012 on Fox Sports:
The Boston Red Sox are trying to forget last season. The Detroit Tigers are trying to build on it. In perhaps the most anticipated matchup of baseball's first big day of games, Detroit will send Justin Verlander to the mound when it hosts Boston at Comerica Park on Thursday. The Tigers won the AL Central last year and added slugger Prince Fielder in the offseason. The Red Sox missed the playoffs in 2011 because of a late collapse. This will be their first game under new manager Bobby Valentine. Detroit manager Jim Leyland was blunt when outlining his goals for the opener. ''A win - that's it,'' he said. ''That's the bottom line, isn't it?'' In other words, Leyland isn't about to put any extra pressure on his ace, who is coming off a 24-5 season that earned him American League Cy Young and MVP honors. Verlander might even be overshadowed Thursday when Fielder makes his debut with the Tigers. The powerful first baseman signed a $214 million, nine-year deal with Detroit in January. After adding Fielder, the Tigers now have three of the game's biggest stars, all in their primes. Miguel Cabrera was the AL batting champion in 2011, and Verlander threw a no-hitter en route to his Cy Young-MVP sweep. Verlander will start on opening day for the fifth straight year. Jon Lester will become the first left-hander to start consecutive opening days for the Red Sox since Mel Parnell started three straight openers from 1952-54. Lester went 15-9 in 2011 but posted a 5.40 ERA in September. Boston is beginning a new era under Valentine, who replaced Terry Francona after a 7-20 September cost the Red Sox a playoff berth last year. Valentine sounded upbeat at the end of spring training. ''I didn't think I'd last this long so it's kind of a pleasant surprise for me,'' he joked. ''It was great. Me personally, I enjoyed it. We played the way I thought we would, got a lot of work done.'' Boston also brought in new closer Andrew Bailey to replace Jonathan Papelbon, but Bailey could miss most of the season because of a right thumb injury. Alfredo Aceves is the top candidate to close games now. This season is in many ways a second chance for the Red Sox, who added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford before last season but fell well short of expectations. Crawford in particular had a rough first season in Boston, hitting a career-worst .255 with only 18 stolen bases. The Tigers opened last season at Yankee Stadium, and they played one of the more tense games of the year there months later, edging New York in Game 5 of the division series. Detroit lost to Texas in the AL championship series. With Fielder at first base, Cabrera moves to third. Cabrera was hit around the right eye by a bad-hop grounder during spring training, but he's playing again and ready to start the season. Detroit went 20-8 in spring training, then beat Triple-A Toledo 8-3 in an exhibition game Wednesday. ''We got guys ready, I think, and that's the most important thing,'' Leyland said. ''There's no secrets now. There's no formula. It doesn't matter what we did in spring training now, other than the fact that we think we got them ready. Boston got ready in spring training. We got ready in spring training. So we'll play.'' Amid the usual pageantry of opening day, this will be a nice test for two teams with high hopes. ''It's a happening for the fans,'' Leyland said. ''The tailgating, and getting there early, and being there with their friends and having a few beers ... it's great, but for us, we're working.''

Verlander picks up where he left off

DETROIT He has two no-hitters, a MVP award and a Cy Young. Theres not much Justin Verlander hasnt done in his six-plus years in the big leagues. But hed never won on Opening Day, and he still hasnt despite a dominant performance Thursday against the Boston Red Sox. Verlander picked up right where he left off during his magical 2011 season, allowing only two hits while pitching...

Justin Verlander proves he eats Taco Bell night before starts (Picture)

We all know professional athletes have weird rituals and superstitions. For whatever reason, that is especially true for baseball players. When a starting pitcher tells us he loads up on In-N-Out Burger or eats fast food the night before a start, we typically take their word for it. But just in case you didn’t believe Justin Verlander when he said he eats Taco Bell the night before...

Justin Verlander tweets pic of standard night-before-game Taco Bell feast

First mentioned during an interview on Conan in January, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander provided photographic evidence on Wednesday night that his earlier disclosure that the traditional night-before-game meal is Taco Bell, proving not only was it a tried-and-true practice for the Cy Young Award winner last season but that it continues to this day. [...]

MLB awards preview: AL Cy Young

Last season, Justin Verlander destroyed all competition in the race for the AL Cy Young, and won the award unanimously after a dominant season. Maybe someone else should have at least gotten one vote, but you really couldn't argue against Verlander without sounding a little bit silly. He's looking to repeat in 2012. Favorites: Justin Verlander, come on down. With the Tigers...

Opening Day Lineup: Red Sox vs. Tigers 4/5/12

Here is today's Opening Day lineup vs. Justin Verlander and the Tigers: Ellsbury CFPedroia 2BGonzalez 1BOrtiz DHYoukilis 3BSweeney RFRoss LFSaltalamacchia CAviles SS Lester SP Game time is at 1:05pm EST. The game will be carried on NESN and ESPN2 Play Ball!

How Many Games Will the Red Sox Win This Season?

It's finally here. The 2012 Boston Red Sox season will get underway on Thursday in Detroit, and the many questions surrounding this ballclub will finally begin to be answered. Jon Lester will toe the rubber for the Sox against reigning MVP Justin Verlander, and the Red Sox will certainly not have an easy go of things in their first outing. However, there are 161 others to be...

Daily Notes - It's the most...Wonderful time....of the year...

The other day I tweeted the Marlins vs. Cardinals game on Wednesday was the soup and salad to the M's vs. A's series appetizer to Thursday's main course. I was asked if Friday would be seconds or desert. I haven't decided yet. I do know that yesterday was a pitching buffet. The scores from yesterdays games more closely resembled matches from the English Premiership...

Velocity Boy(s)

Justin Verlander throws pretty fast.But so does Josh Beckett.Doug Fister (pictured), who starts for Detroit tomorrow, also brings the heat.It's going to be 61 degrees in Detroit tomorrow. Not bad for April, but when the pitches are in the 90s and the air is in the 60s, you have to feel for the hitters.

MLB awards preview: AL MVP

The field for all of the awards this season is wide open. Over the next two days, I'm going to look at some of the top contenders for each of the three major awards in both leagues. Right now: the AL MVP award. Last season, Justin Verlander won the AL MVP (as well as the Cy Young award), a rare win for a pitcher. Verlander's 7 win season (which actually, isn't the highest...

Red Sox rally against Valverde but fall in 9th

Jon Lester matched Justin Verlander for most of the day, and the Boston Red Sox even scored a couple runs off Jose Valverde. It wasn't enough. Austin Jackson hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Detroit Tigers overcame Valverde's blown save to beat the Red Sox 3-2 in Thursday's opener. Jon Lester pitched seven solid innings, but Boston...

Red Sox @ Tigers : Boston Red Sox open season in Detroit

  Jon Lester will get the ball to open the 2012 Red Sox season Games Thursday, April 5th, 2012 1:05 EST: Red Sox (Lester) @ Tigers (Verlander) Saturday, April 7th, 2012 4:05 EST: Red Sox (Becket) @ Tigers (Fister) Sunday, April 8th, 2012 1:05 EST: Red Sox (Buchholz) @ Tigers (Scherzer) The Red Sox open up their campaign to erase the memories of the 2012 season in Detroit against...

Anticipation hangs over Tigers

By MICHAEL J. TOLEDO, Ohio -- The grass at Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mudhens, is already May green. Springtime came very early to the Midwest, making things come alive that usually remain dormant in these parts for at least another month. It's as if even nature itself couldn't stand the anticipation of the 2012 Detroit Tigers season...

Opening Day Matchups

Ace Matchup of the Day: Jon Lester vs. Justin Verlander Two of the best pitchers in the game go head-to-head against two of the best offenses in the game. Intriguing Matchup of the Day: Tommy Hanson vs. Johan Santana Two pitchers who are coming back from injury. Santana had major shoulder surgery and hasn’t pitched a big league game since September 2, 2010. Hanson also had shoulder...
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