At a time like this, the Red Sox could certainly use a beer or two. Too bad there's none in their clubhouse.
For the second of the team's first three games, Boston's two closer candidates couldn't stop the Tigers and the Red Sox have gone 0-3 to start the season for the second consecutive year.
On opening day, Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves were unable to hold off the Tigers in a single inning, on Sunday, they both blew save opportunities in different innings.
In his first save attempt of the season, Aceves came into the game with a 10-7 lead in the ninth inning but need just nine pitches to give up the lead on Miguel Cabrera's three-run homer. So far this season, Aceves has faced five batters and hasn't recorded an out, good for an infinite ERA.
After the Red Sox put two runs on the board in the 11th, Melancon -- who wasn't happy with what he thought was an early hook on Thursday -- gave up back-to-back singles one-out singles (the same thing he did on Thursday), but there was no other choice for manager Bobby Valentine but to keep Melancon in. After a sacrifice fly pulled the Tigers to within one, Alex Avila homered to right on a 2-2 curveball to give the Tigers the victory and series sweep.
It's still early, it really is, but the team's closer's spot has been a question all spring. It seemed like the trade for Andrew Bailey had made up for the loss of Jonathan Papelbon, but Bailey suffered a thumb injury during spring training and underwent surgery last week.
The same day Bailey had surgery, Valentine said Aceves -- who spend all spring trying to win a place in the team's rotation -- had won the closer's job, with Melancon, who had 20 saves for the Astros last season, as the top set-up man and closer on days Aceves wasn't available.
Now it appears Valentine doesn't have too many other choices. There's Daniel Bard, who won the fifth starter's spot and is scheduled to start Tuesday at Toronto. As crazy as it sounds to pull him from the rotation, Valentine didn't dismiss the possibility after Sunday's meltdown.
"Might be," Valentine told reporters (via the Providence Journal) when asked if Bard would be an option.
Valentine said he may also consider 34-year-old right-hander Vicente Padilla, who allowed just two hits and struck out four in four scoreless innings on Sunday. Padilla did give up an earned run on a hit and a walk in 1/3 of an inning on Thursday.
It's not just the bullpen that's struggling -- in 11 1/3 innings pitched this season, the bullpen has an ERA of 7.94. That's not good, unless you compare it to Boston's starters, who have an 8.62 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, with Clay Buchholz lasting just four innings on Sunday.
In Boston it doesn't take too long for controversy to pop up, and with the inability to close things out (which still smarts in Red Sox nation), the closer situation is going to be something that's watched very closely.
"We're trying to figure out what to do. We'll keep it a work in progress," Valentine said (via the Providence Journal). "We're three days into this thing since we lost our closer."
Even so, it's clear they haven't found a closer yet.