Not funny, Valentine

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine applauds before the first game of the season begins. His team is...

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine applauds before the first game of the season begins. His team is 0-3 since then. (Leon Halip/Getty Images/AFP)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

Was it really just eight months ago that the Boston Red Sox were being touted in some quarters as the greatest team in baseball history?

That, of course, was just before the Red Sox collapsed as few teams ever have last September, setting off a massive over-reaction. The manager and general manager -- who had collaborated on two World Series titles in the previous seven years -- more or less chased out of town.

Now the Red Sox come limping into Toronto after just about the most miserable start to 2012 they could have imagined, swept in agonizing fashion by the Tigers in Detroit.

In two of the three games, the Red Sox blew ninth-inning leads. In the middle game they got absolutely shellacked, 10-0. In their 13-12 loss Sunday, they blew a 10-7 lead in the ninth, took a 12-10 lead in the top of the 11th, then lost it on Alex Avila's walk-off two-run homer.

For a team with a $170-million payroll, this Boston outfit has some big holes.

They let Jonathan Papelbon walk in the offseason, replaced him as closer with Andrew Bailey, and now Bailey is lost for most of the season. In these first three games, their bullpen inadequacies have been painfully apparent.

They traded away anyone on the team with experience at shortstop, then scrambled to fill the hole in spring training.

And then there's the rotation. Beyond Jon Lester, things look rather grim. Josh Beckett got waxed on Saturday and Clay Buchholz was treated in similar fashion Sunday. Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront are hardly sure things at the back of the rotation.

After two quiet days, at least the Boston offence started making some noise Sunday but if they don't start getting something, anything out of their pitching staff, it's going to be a long season for Bobby Valentine in his first year as manager.


HOT AND COLD

  • Welcome to the AL, Mark Melancon. In two appearances, the reliever is 0-2, with a blown save, allowing five hits and four runs in one inning.
  • Alfredo Aceves has appeared in two games, faced five batters, and still hasn't gotten anybody out, surrendering a game-winning HR Sunday to Alex Avila.
  • Starters Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz had a nice weekend. Between them, they pitched 8 2/3 innings, allowed 15 hits and 14 earned runs.
  • Ryan Sweeney has been Boston's best hitter (5-for-11, with an OPS of 1.136. Adrian Gonzalez has the team's only HR.
  • Jon Lester has been the only Boston starter of note since the start of September. His opening day start (7 IP, 6H, 1ER) was wasted by the pen.

FIDLIN'S TAKE

Over the last three years, the Red Sox have won the season series against Toronto -- 10-8 in 2011, 12-6 in 2010 and 11-7 in 2009, for a 33-21 advantage.

The Jays did manage to beat the Sox in four out of six games played last September but, then, didn't everybody? Now the Red Sox have begun 2012 by being swept by the Tigers and looking like it's September all over again.

PREDICTION: Coming off Toronto's 2-of-3 series win in Cleveland to kick off the season the Jays come north of the border well energized. Buoyed by renewing acquaintances with their growing legion of fans, coupled with Boston's continued pitching woes, we're thinking they'll win two of the three games against the Red Sox.


Videos

Photos