Money Line: Boston +130 Detroit -140
Total Line: 7
The Boston Red Sox kick-off their 2012 regular season this Thursday with a trip to Tigers Stadium to face Price Fielder and the Detroit Tigers in the first of a three-game set that extends through Sunday. This game is slated to get underway at 1:05 p.m. (ET) and it will be available on MLB TV.
Boston fully realizes it is going to be in a battle all season long to get back to the postseason in the highly competitive AL East and cannot afford another slow start like it experienced last season. The bats are loaded and ready to go with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz leading the way, but the Red Sox may lose their closer Andrew Bailey for an extended period of time if he requires surgery on an injured thumb.
Thursday’s starter for Boston is expected to be left-hander Jon Lester, who is tied with C.C. Sabathia for the second-most wins in the AL since 2008. Last season he finished with a 15-9 record and a 3.47 ERA. Lifetime against the Tigers he is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.89 in 18.1 innings pitched.
Detroit is favored to win the AL Central this season largely because of the offseason acquisition of Fielder as a free agent from Milwaukee. He adds even more power to a lineup that finished third in the AL last season in hitting with a .277 team batting average and fourth in scoring with 787 runs.
The other primary reason that the Tigers are favored is this game’s starter, Justin Verlander, who won both the Cy Young and MVP award in the American League last season. The right-hander has a lifetime 3.54 ERA, but finished last season with an ERA of 2.40 on his way to a 24-5 record in 34 starts. Verlander is 3-2 against the Red Sox with an ERA of 3.22.
Boston went 5-1 against the Tigers in 2011, including taking three of four on the road. The total went 1-3-2 in the six games. Verlander pitched Detroit to its only win in a 3-0 shutout as a 103 home favorite. With a strong Spring under his belt, you have to believe he will simply pick-up where he left off. The Free MLB Pick: Detroit 4 Boston 2