Senior Baseball Columnist

Weekend Buzz: What to make of Yanks, Red Sox both starting 0-3


Joe Girardi can find solace in the Yanks' last 0-3 start, 1998, which ended with a World Series title. (AP)  
Joe Girardi can find solace in the Yanks' last 0-3 start, 1998, which ended with a World Series title. (AP)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were solving the true identity of the Easter bunny: Giants' catcher Buster Posey, who crushed his first home run Sunday since ... last Easter. Solid (not hollow) milk chocolate rabbits for all! ...

Caution, iceberg ahead: Coincidence that Titanic 3-D is now in theaters just as the Yankees and Red Sox are crashing to a combined 0-6 start? Or time to reach for the lifejackets and lifeboats?

Mixed answer: For Joe Girardi, no. For Bobby Valentine, yes.

The Yankees and Red Sox each are 0-3 for the first time since 1966, according to STATS LLC. And it didn't have to be this way.

But for Mariano Rivera's blown save in the opener Friday at Tampa Bay, the Yankees were in position to at least win a game.

But for Alfredo Aceves' blown save in the finale Sunday at Detroit, the Red Sox were in position to at least win a game, too.

That's where the similarities stop.

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The Tigers ripped through the Red Sox like a soup spoon through New England clam chowder, clobbering two of Boston's three best starting pitchers -- Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz --and emphasizing one of the Red Sox's major flaws. Namely, the bullpen mess with Jonathan Papelbon now in Philadelphia and Andrew Bailey (thumb) on the disabled list.

Interim closer Alfredo Aceves pumped a meatball down Woodward Ave. in the ninth Sunday, simply inexplicable, and Miguel Cabrera did what he does. He crushed a tying three-run homer to wipe out Boston's 10-7 lead and send Valentine to the Tums drawer. Aceves blew a three-run lead in a breathtaking seven pitches. Then the Tigers pounced on Mark Melancon, who learned he's far from Houston, to win with three runs in the 11th inning.

Named as Bailey's replacement in the final hours of spring training, Aceves has faced five hitters and retired none. Meantime, Daniel Bard, last year's setup man and one-time heir to Papelbon's throne, is Tuesday's scheduled starter in Toronto. Speaking of which, it took the Red Sox to Game 162 last season to do what they did in the Game 3 Sunday: Blow a ninth-inning lead.

"The Bailey thing kind of took us by surprise, so we're working through it and we're learning a lot about our guys," Valentine told New England Sports Network after the game, which probably is better than saying "Bailey is more fragile than a month-old kitten and everybody but us didn't exactly need a magnifying glass and a detective's kit to see this coming."

Not that it's all ice cream and Babe Ruth stories for the Yankees but, while noticeable, an 0-3 start isn't exactly a death sentence. The last two times the Yankees started 0-3, they finished with the majors' best regular-season record and won the World Series: In 2009 (103-59) and 1998 (114-48).

The Red Sox? Last September's disaster is bleeding into 2011. The rotation ERA is 8.62 with Felix Doubrant and Bard not having thrown a pitch yet. Valentine's next move: Applying the tourniquet.

2. Boston's September Twin: The Braves can't stop the bleeding, either. Swept by the Mets, Atlanta is 0-3 on the heels of a blowing a 9 1/2-game wild card lead with just 30 to play last summer. Not a good way to put to rest the Ghosts of the Collapse of 2011, or the speculation surrounding Fredi Gonzalez's job status that should begin swirling, oh, by the time the Braves begin a series in Houston on Monday night.

"Nobody in here is thinking about what happened last year," Braves catcher Brian McCann told reporters following Sunday's 7-5 loss. "We won 89 ballgames. We're a very talented team."

3. More fun with numbers: How big a deal is it for Tampa Bay to sweep the Yankees and start 3-0? Wellll ... the Rays have started 3-0 only once before in franchise history. That was in 2002. And they lost a franchise-record 106 games. Last year they started 0-6 before racing back to make the playoffs. Just sayin'. ...

4. Giant fun with numbers: San Francisco's magic number last year was four runs. When the Giants scored that many, they were 55-9, highest winning percentage in the majors (.859). In getting swept in Arizona to start the season, they lost 5-4, 5-4 and 7-6 and now are 0-3 when scoring four or more in 2012.

5. Popping the Pujols cork: Without anything to show for his own night, Albert Pujols did same thing everyone else did during his Anaheim debut Friday night: Marveled at Angels ace Jered Weaver, who was second in last season's AL Cy Young voting and started this year's Cy campaign in style (eight innings, no runs, four hits, 10 strikeouts).

"The way he hides the ball, it's amazing," Pujols said. "It almost looks like the rosin bag coming out of his hand."

6. Mo' Better Blues: What if Yankees legend Rivera is finished? Hey, just asking, not predicting. But the guy is 42 and has strongly hinted that this will be his last season. Everybody but inhabitants of the AL East no doubt would love to see one more vintage Rivera season before he's done. But even the great(est) ones don't last forever. The trap-door opened on Trevor Hoffman when he was 42. He lost his job in Milwaukee to John Axford early that season, then retired at season's end. This isn't to put Rivera out to pasture already -- he had converted 27 consecutive save opportunities against the Rays before Friday. But at his age, every outing is worth watching. There are no guarantees. The game does not treat legends with more respect than others.

7. My recommendation? Sleep in, waffles for breakfast: Miguel Cabrera kicked off what sure looks like an MVP campaign in style, going 5 for 11 against the Red Sox with three homers, eight RBI and a staggering 17 total bases. The Tigers struck for a bottom-of-the-ninth win on Thursday, a 10-0 drubbing while slashing five home runs against Beckett on Saturday and a wild 13-12 bottom-of-the-11th win Sunday.

"Thank God we have an off day [Monday]," Alex Avila told Tigers television after smashing the winning, two-run homer Sunday.

8. Marlins Park: Everybody's talking about how mammoth it is. How big is it? Word is Giancarlo Stanton is considering changing his name back to Mike, figuring maybe he can fool the park that way.

9. Yo, no Cardinals: After getting the feathers kicked out of him again Friday, Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo is now 1-9 with a 6.24 ERA in 13 career starts against St. Louis, including last year's NLCS, and was clubbed for four homers in a game last Sept. 1 and four more Friday.

10. First-place Orioles: Yes, that's Baltimore tied with Tampa Bay atop the AL East at 3-0. Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel, the new Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Wally Bunker? Don't discount it: Last time the Yankees and Red Sox each started 0-3, back in '66? The Orioles won the World Series. You could look it up.


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