It's the second of three-straight home openers that the Red Sox will take part in. The last ended courtesy of Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves, but it's too early in the year to assume the second will end the same. Spring optimism lasts throughout the spring, you know, and we're just three games into the season. Plus, the Jays will be wearing much sharper-looking uniforms than the Tigers, so it's already completely different.
The opponent for the next three nights will be the Toronto Blue Jays (2-1, third place in the AL East):
Game 1: Felix Doubront (N/A) vs. Henderson Alvarez (N/A)
Game 2: Daniel Bard (N/A) vs. Kyle Drabek (N/A)
Game 3: Jon Lester (1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 317 ERA+) vs. Ricky Romero (7.20 ERA, 5 IP, 58 ERA+)
Doubront vs. Alvarez is a battle of two young starters who haven't quite established themselves in the majors yet. Doubront has command issues that sometimes keep him from being as effective as he's capable of, while Alvarez is almost too much command -- he doesn't miss bats, and relies heavily on not walking the opposition to succeed. Bard against Drabek pits Official Start #1 of the Daniel Bard: Starting Pitcher experiment against Kyle Drabek's "I Don't Want To Go Back To Las Vegas" stress test.
The final game of the series features one of Boston's favorite punching bags. Let's hope he's the Ricardo Romero we know he can be (.328/.413/.544 in 13 games and 323 plate appearances) when he sees the Red Sox later this week.
As for the lineup, it's your typical Jays. Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie are frightening, but after that, you're down to mostly league-average hitters and Adam Lind. It's okay if Bautista and Lawrie mash, as long as Red Sox pitchers can keep the lesser offensive pieces off of the bases. Having a lineup full of average-or-better position players isn't a bad thing -- it can help you make a team capable of winning at least 80 games, for instance -- but against the Red Sox lineup, it doesn't even compare. The Jays certainly have players capable of being much more than average at the plate -- Colby Rasmus, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, J.P. Arencibia -- but they either haven't been yet or have failed to be that consistently. It's part of the reason the Jays were able to acquire three of those four in the first place.
The difference will, as it did this past weekend, come from how well Boston's pitchers can do. Just because baseball likes to be random, the two hurlers that people lack confidence in -- Doubront and Bard -- will likely pitch well following the beatings sustained by the starters that those same people aren't worried about in Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. Stop being funny, baseball. Let the Red Sox win.