The Red Sox are 1-3 to start the young season following a series-opening, 3-1 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park on Monday night.
Michael Wacha, making his 2022 debut for Boston, allowed just one run on two hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work in his first start of the year.
The lone run Wacha gave up came right away in the first inning, as the veteran right-hander loaded the bases with one out before yielding a sacrifice fly to Miguel Cabrera that gave Detroit an early 1-0 lead.
Wacha was able to settle down after that, though. He did so by retiring nine batters in a row at one point before issuing a leadoff walk to Tucker Barnhart in the fifth.
Barnhart would be the second-to-last Tiger Wacha would face, as he proceeded to punch out Akil Badoo on seven pitches for the first out of the frame and then made way for Matt Strahm out of the Boston bullpen.
All told, the 30-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 72 (45 strikes) on Monday. The majority of those pitches were either four-seam fastballs or changeups, as Wacha hovered around 92.8 mph with his heater and induced a game-high seven whiffs with his change.
Moments before Wacha’s outing came to a close, a Trevor Story-less Red Sox lineup still found themselves trailing in a 1-0 game and at the whim of Tigers starter Matt Manning.
Manning, also making his first start of 2022, begin his evening by sitting down each of the first 12 Boston batters he faced. The young righty took a perfect game into the fifth inning before serving up a leadoff solo shot to former Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez.
Martinez’s first home run of the season left his bat at a scorching 110.2 mph and travelled 413 feet to left center field. It also provided the Sox with their first hit of the night and pulled them back even with Detroit at 1-1.
In relief of Wacha, Strahm continued to impress by fanning the only two batters he faced in the fifth. That paved the way for Matt Barnes to make his 2022 debut in the sixth after missing his team’s first three games due to back tightness.
Barnes, as it turns out, needed all 10 pitches (eight strikes) to get through a scoreless sixth inning in which he stranded Miguel Cabrera at second base. The 31-year-old sat at 94 mph with his four-seamer while topping out at 95.3 mph with the pitch.
While things were going swimmingly for the Red Sox bullpen up until that point, their fortunes began to change in the eighth. After tossing a scoreless frame in the seventh, Austin Davis was sent back out for the eighth to face the left-handed hitting Austin Meadows.
Davis immediately gave up a leadoff single to Meadows, prompting Sox manager Alex Cora to go back to his bullpen and call upon Ryan Brasier.
With Meadows representing the potential go-ahead run, Brasier came on to face newest Tigers star Javier Baez. Baez then took a neck-high, 2-2 fastball from Brasier and deposited it 396 feet into the left field seats.
Baez’s first home run as a Tiger was a two-run blast that gave his team a 3-1 lead. Brasier was unable to finish the eighth as that responsibility instead fell to Phillips Valdez.
In the ninth, with Gregory Soto on the mound for Detroit, Rafael Devers made things a bit interesting by ripping a one-out double to left field. After Xander Bogaerts flew out, Martinez nearly came through with his second big fly of the night.
Instead of clearing the right field fence and tying things up, Martinez’s 102 mph line drive off Soto fell 334 feet into the glove of Robbie Grossman to seal a 3-1 defeat for the Red Sox.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox lineup tallied a total of four hits, went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position, and left three men on base as a team on Monday.
In three relief appearances this season, Matt Strahm has struck out three of the eight batters he has faced.
Through their first four games, the Red Sox have been outscored by their opponents, 16-12.
Next up: Hill vs. Alexander
Tuesday’s pitching matchup will feature a pair of left-handers going at it. Rich Hill will make his season debut and first start since 2015 for the Red Sox while Tyler Alexander will get the ball for the Tigers.
First pitch Tuesday afternoon is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Alex Cora and Ryan Brasier: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)