Game 3 Preview: Red Sox at Tigers

March 23, 2012; Sarasota, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) throws during the bottom of the first inning of a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Boston Red Sox (0-2) at Detroit Tigers (2-0)

Time/Place: 1 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Over the Monster

Media: FOX Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching matchup: Clay Buchholz (6-3, 3.48 ERA in 2011) vs. Max Scherzer (15-9, 4.43 ERA in 2011)

Copied and pasted from Thursday's series preview:

At a glance, Buchholz's spring statistics weren't too pretty. A 2-2 record with a 5.23 ERA probably has some of the Boston faithful a little nervous about their rotation given the relative lack of experience after Buchholz. In his start against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, he blazed through the first four innings, but had trouble in the 5th and 6th innings. He was a little "too accurate" with his pitches, so to speak -- basically piping fastballs into the strike zone all game long -- and the aggressive Nationals finally caught up, tagging him with 4 earned runs before he exited with one out in the 6th inning.

If Buchholz is pounding the strike zone as consistently as he was in Spring Training, he could be in for a short outing against the Tigers. Buchholz needs to hit his spots and ward off the aggressiveness of the Tigers' hitters if he is going to be successful.

I don't want to go into too much detail about Scherzer, mostly because we've beaten that dead horse for the past four months after his stellar* postseason. He has the ability, but his inconsistency from start to start is what holds him back from being a top-tier starter. His 5.76 ERA over the entire spring is one thing; the fact that it was 4.26 before his last start of the spring is what worries me.

*I have blacked out any memory of Scherzer pitching in Game 6 of the ALCS. As far as I'm concerned, Brad Penny started that game.

Double Panic in Boston!

In the grand scheme of things, it's two games. Josh Beckett will more than likely rebound to have a very good season. The offense will score more than one run per game. Boston will be in the playoff hunt in September. Still, Beckett's outing yesterday did nothing to alleviate Red Sox Nation's concern about their pitching situation. The comparisons to last September have already started, and they won't go away until the team starts winning again (or, knowing Boston fans, until they win another championship).

Outlook

The Tigers head into today’s game looking to sweep the Red Sox for the first time since the 2007 season (in which the Red Sox won the World Series. Go figure.). Saturday's offensive explosion signaled that the Tigers are picking up where they left off in Spring Training, where they led the majors in home runs. It also signals how much fun this year is shaping up to be, and it's only the first weekend of the season. With an off day tomorrow, I think that Jim Leyland's traditional "Sunday lineups" might wait a week to settle into mid-season form. Just don't expect them to put up double digits again.

Prediction

Scherzer improves on his last performance, but struggles to get through the 6th inning. This one comes down to the bullpens.

Gameday Reading:

Tigers Doug Fister to Disabled List; Also, What the Hell Is a Costochondral Strain? - Detroit4lyfe, Rob Rogacki
In case you missed it, here's a description (from yours truly) of Doug Fister's injury and how long we can expect him to be out of action.

Fielder, Cabrera hit 2 HRs each in rout of Boston - Boston.com, Noah Trister
"Fielder and Cabrera hit two homers apiece and Alex Avila added another off Josh Beckett in the Tigers' 10-0 rout of the Boston Red Sox on Saturday."

Tigers 10, Red Sox 0: Cabrera, Fielder Twice Trade Home Runs as Detroit Blasts Beckett and Co. in Comerical Rout - Walkoff Woodward, Josh Worn
"The game was also Fox’s 'Game of the Week' and so, with quite a few eyes on them, the Motor City Muscle did not disappoint." I like the nickname, but ThunderCats might have a better ring to it.

Beckett, Bailey Injured During Thumb Wars Battle - NotGraphs Baseball, Marc Hulet
Maybe Beckett really did hurt his thumb. That would explain the lack of command yesterday. (h/t to SW Wa Southpaw for the FanShot)

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