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Red Sox Desperate Heading Into Home Opener Friday vs. Rays

It’s probably too early to panic for Boston Red Sox fans even though the team is 1-5 – after all, the club went 0-6 last season and was destined for the playoffs before a historic collapse in September. But in between that start and the season’s final month, Boston was the best team in baseball. Still, there is no doubt some pressure for the Red Sox to win their home opener on Friday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston is a -125 favorite at Bovada’s MLB baseball odds.
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Dating to the start of last September, Boston is 8-25 in its past 33 games. And the Sox haven’t won back-to-back games since a doubleheader sweep of the Oakland Athletics last Aug. 27, a span of 35 games.
Certainly the schedule-makers didn’t do Boston any favors to start 2012 as the Sox had to open at Detroit, which might be the best team in baseball, and then play three at what looks like an AL East contender in the Toronto Blue Jays. But that doesn’t excuse the fact Boston’s 6.40 ERA is the worst in baseball and that hitters are batting .283 against Red Sox pitching (third-worst in MLB). The team’s top two healthy relievers, set-up man Mark Melancon and closer Alfred Aceves, have ERAs of 27.00 and 36.00, respectively. Melancon has two losses and Aceves has one blown save.
And on offense, the power has been non-existent as Boston is tied for the fewest homers with two (one each by Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez). Ryan Sweeney has been a pleasant surprise, hitting a team-leading .444. But Jacoby Ellsbury his hitting just .130, Kevin Youkilis .100 and Jarrod Saltalamacchia .077.
Perhaps a return to Fenway will help as Boston was 45-36 at home a year ago. The Red Sox go with Josh Beckett on Friday against Rays lefty David Price.
Beckett (0-1, 13.50) was rocked for seven runs and five home runs in 4 2/3 innings in his first outing by Detroit. This will be the fifth time in seven years Beckett will start the home opener. He was 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three starts vs. Tampa Bay last year. Price beat the Yankees in his first start, allowing two runs on five hits in 6.1 innings. He was 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts vs. Boston in 2011.
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