DETROIT — It was the going to be the kind of the kind of win that gets a team going.
The manager shakes up the lineup, an early deficit is overcome and everybody gets on the flight to Toronto feeling good. The Sox had battered eight Detroit pitchers for 12 runs on 18 hits. There was plenty to be proud of.
Instead there was more misery. Mark Melancon gave up three runs in the bottom of the 11th and the Sox lost, 13-12. That after Alfredo Aceves gave up three runs in the ninth to lose a 10-7 lead.
What are the odds of that? Pretty astronomical. It was only the seventh time in team in team history the Sox scored 12 runs and lost — the first time since May 31, 1970 against the White Sox.
That was a 22-13 game that was probably laughed off.
This one, not so much.
“We needed to get that one today and that’s on my shoulders,” Melancon said. “I need to stay aggressive and not let these affect me and keep going. If I can ever sleep.”
Adrian Gonzalez threw an arm around Melancon’s shoulders and whispered a few words in his ear. Vicente Padilla did the same. Other teammates patted him on the back.
“Keep your head up. Keep grinding,” Gonzalez said when asked what his message was. “A couple of weeks from now you’re not even going to remember it.”
Jon Lester allowed one run in seven innings on Thursday. In the 20 innings since, Sox pitchers have given up 24 earned runs on 33 hits, seven of them home runs. The bullpen has been responsible for 10 earned runs over 11.1 innings.
Is Daniel Bard was an option out of the bullpen?
“Might be,” Bobby Valentine said.
Meanwhile 24-year-old Felix Doubront starts Monday night with a tired bullpen behind him. It will be the fourth start of his career, the first since 2010.
Valentine tried his best to stay positive.
“Guys played a hell of a game. That was a game to be proud of until the end,” he said. “These guys are professional guys. This is as good a group of guys as I’ve ever been around. They know what they have to do and I believe they’ll continue to do it.”
The look on his face said otherwise. He thought in spring training he had a contender. But the injury to Andrew Bailey has turned an already shaky bullpen upside down. The Sox have plenty of time to get themselves right. But it has to start soon.
ESPN’s Buster Olney, who was at the game on Thursday, wrote today about clubhouse dissension and its effect on the Sox. I believe there is less of that this season than there was last. But there clearly is a chasm between the pitchers and hitters and games like today will only make that disconnect wider.
The Red Sox do not need a team captain. But they need a handful of players — Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Daniel Bard would be a good place to start — to assert themselves and set the right tone.
You can’t connect seasons to any degree. But this team last lost 23 of its last 30 games and there is no hiding from that. That can only be changed by the guys in uniform and by having a sense of purpose that does not go beyond the nine innings in front of them.
“You never wish for this to happen, never,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve just got to keep coming out tomorrow and go after Toronto like if it’s the last game of the season. Got to go out there and get that win. It’s big for us.”
The Sox are 0-3 and so are the Yankees. That hasn’t happened since 1966.
Catch you tomorrow from Canada. Thanks to everybody for reading today. Love the passion.