Jacoby Ellsbury, who had one of the biggest offensive seasons in Red Sox history last year, is among four regular players off to a hitless start through the first two games. Ellsbury (0-for-7), Kevin Youkilis (0-for-8), Cody Ross (0-for-8) and Mike Aviles (0-for-6) are all looking for their first hits.With the Red Sox looking for Ellsbury to ignite the offense from the top, manager Bobby Valentine says there's one way how he can have a second straight stellar season. "By taking it one pitch at a time," Valentine said. "Obviously today, at the end of today, he's not going to have the stats that he had at the end of last year. And, you know, the trap everyone always falls into is answering all those questions. 'How are you going to do better this year than you did last year?' You start thinking that you have to hit a home run every time and a triple the next time and two doubles and steal bases, drive in the runs, all at once, and that's not how it happens." Left fielder Carl Crawford, currently rehabilitating his surgically repaired left wrist, is expected to play in extended spring games in Florida within the week. The Red Sox offered Crawford a chance to take part in the home opener festivities at Fenway this coming Friday, but he indicated he would rather stay focused on his rehab. Tigers: Jackson hopes contact breeds success
Austin Jackson, the walk-off hero in Thursday's opener, delivered another RBI with a double Saturday. Having led the American League in strikeouts in 2010 with 170 and topping that with 181 last year, Jackson knows getting the bat on the ball can make good things happen -- like on Thursday."I think it's more of shortening up and making sure I'm not overswinging in those situations," Jackson said. "Anything can happen in that situation by putting the ball in play, and that's what I tried to do my best to do." Five relievers other than Jose Valverde, the only one to see action Thursday, made season debuts on the mound Saturday, and arrived there a little earlier than anyone hoped. After starter Doug Fister left the game with a left side strain that will land him on the disabled list, Duane Below, Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit finished out the shutout. Worth noting
When the Red Sox faced and lost to reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander on Thursday, it marked the third time they'd faced a defending Cy Young pitcher -- the others were Jim Palmer of the Orioles in 1976 and Bob Turley of the Yankees in 1958. After Sunday's game, the Red Sox will continue their road trip by heading to Toronto for a matchup against the Blue Jays. The Tigers will host another tough AL East foe in the Rays.