The Weekend Takeaway
Red Sox fans watched the 2011 season come to a close while singing a certain Green Day song, as their team suffered a historic collapse. Well, the calendar says April now, but after a weekend sweep at the hands of the Tigers, it’s as though September never ended.

Detroit walked off with a 3-2 win on Friday, routed Boston 10-0 on Saturday, and finally inflicted the deathblow on Sunday. A 10-7 Red Sox lead in the ninth inning went “poof!” with Miguel Cabrera’s three-run homer off interim closer Alfredo Aceves. A 12-10 Red Sox edge in the 11th inning turned into a 13-12 Tigers victory when Alex Avila deposited a pitch from Mark Melancon over the right-field wall.

Sunday’s game was the first time in the Red Sox’ storied history that the team lost a game in which it twice held multi-run leads after the eighth inning. It also marked just the seventh time in franchise history that the Sox lost a game in which they scored 12 or more runs. And it was the cherry on top of a weekend series during which the Red Sox bullpen combined for this staggering line: 11 1/3 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 5 BB, 13 K, 2 HR.

Things don’t get any easier from here, with a trip to Toronto followed by a nine-game homestand against Tampa Bay, Texas, and New York. Off to an ominous 0-3 start, manager Bobby Valentine can only hope that he finds the prescription to cure his pitching staff’s malaise across the border.

What to Watch for on Monday

  • The wait is finally over for Rangers fans eager to see Yu Darvish in official action. He’ll get the ball against the Mariners (8:05 p.m. ET), who will counter with their own off-season addition, former Yankees farmhand Hector Noesi. Moments after Darvish’s first pitch, the eyes of a nation more than 8,000 miles away will be glued to television screens as Ichiro Suzuki, now Seattle’s number-three hitter, steps into the batter’s box in Arlington to face his countryman.
  • Ryan Braun might have tuned out the boo birds in spring training, but Monday’s Brewers road opener (7:05 p.m. ET) at Wrigley Field will be a greater challenge for the “exonerated” outfielder. Just ask his new teammate, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who knows Cubs fans as well as anyone in the league. The hecklers are sure to be out in full force, and Braun will be well within earshot in left field.
  • Jeff Samardzija showed promise in his debut as a starter, tossing 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out eight, and walking none in a Cubs win over the Nationals. Today, the crosstown White Sox will get their first regular-season look at their own reliever-turned-starter, Chris Sale. The 23-year-old earned plenty of attention in March by posting a 28-to-4 K/BB over 28 innings, and he’ll hope to bring that success with him to Cleveland tonight (7:05 p.m. ET).
  • The Giants haven’t started a season 0-4 since 1950. After getting swept out of Arizona, they’re in grave danger of doing so, especially with Barry Zito scheduled to start this afternoon’s (4:10 p.m. ET) game at Coors Field. 

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When Ryan Braun steps onto Wrigley Field this evening, there will be Cub fans of a certain age who will remember the early summer day in 1987 when Doc Gooden did the same, just after returning from his first suspension. The fans, of which I was one, greeted him with a chant of "JUST SAY NO!", a phrase that Nancy Reagan had recently popularized.

Doc did something classy then. He turned to the crowd, smiled, and tipped his hat, and the crowd did something classy in return: they gave Doc a nice little cheer.

Can the crowd, and the player, top this? Something else to watch for this Monday.
In the last year of old Yankee stadium I was in the outfield bleachers for a game against the Reds, for whom Corey Patterson was then the CF. Patterson, being terrible, was the recipient of relentless hecklings.

"Hey Corey, what are you hitting, 200?"

At this, Patterson turned around, smiled, raised his hands, and flashed 1 finger, then 9, then another 9. The crowd cheered, and I've been a fan of his person (though not his playing ability) ever since.
Of course, Barry Zito threw a complete game shut out, allowing only four singles and no walks.

Let's see: The Mets won. The Yankees won. And the Red Sox won, with their bullpen throwing four scoreless innings. Not to mention that Ryan Braun went 2-4 with a double and a walk.

Daniel, would you mind talking smack about my beloved Dodgers and all of my fantasy players? I'd be much obliged! :)

In the meantime, Chris Sale pitched well. Nice call!
Nah, Giants only. I'm taking full credit for that shutout.