The bats are out in full force for Detroit hitters to kick off the 2012 season, and the Tigers out-slugged an equally-potent Boston squad 13-12 in extra innings on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
The afternoon's two starting pitchers, Detroit's Max Scherzer and Boston's Clay Buchholz, combined to pitch just 6.2 innings, surrendering 16 hits with four combined walks. Scherzer's five-run implosion in the third signaled the end to his day, while Buchholz was scored upon in three of the four innings where he saw the mound, and never found a rhythm.
Things looked quite bleak down the stretch for the Tigers, who trailed 10-7 heading into the final inning, before a Miguel Cabrera three-run bomb in the bottom of the ninth tied the game at ten apiece and brought an Easter Sunday crowd of well over 30,000 fans to their feet. Cabrera, who now has three home runs and eight RBI on the season, looks to be the most feared hitter in baseball at the moment, and is clearly benefiting from the added protection of Prince Fielder in the lineup.
After a pair of scoreless extra innings from both sides, former Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Punto slapped a single to left center in the 11th to score Cody Ross and give the Red Sox a one-run advantage that quickly grew to two. But instead of lying down in the bottom half of the inning with two outs, catcher Alex Avila, who played the entire day behind the plate, sent a Mark Melancon fastball *narrowly* over the wall in right field to give Detroit a two-run homer and a miraculous 13-12 walkoff win.
The two clubs combined for 25 runs on 35 hits during the day, in a game that lasted nearly five hours and tested the mettle of both bullpens. The Tigers (3-0) will take on AL East representative Tampa Bay in a three-game home series that opens on Tuesday.