x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Upside-down start to the baseball season

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are both off to slow starts this season at 0-3, but at least the Yankees can look to their past and smile.

An 0-3 start to the season has Derek Jeter, centre, and the rest of the New York Yankees a bit glum.
An 0-3 start to the season has Derek Jeter, centre, and the rest of the New York Yankees a bit glum.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are both 0-3 for the first time in 46 years. Atlanta are stumbling in April the same way they did last September.

The Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are on top of the standings, while Houston have a winning record for the first time since July 2009.

Yes, it was a strange opening weekend in Major League Baseball, complete with stirring comebacks, near no-hitters and more than a few surprises.

One day after Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six-and-two-third hitless innings for Cleveland, Jason Hammel carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning for Baltimore.

The wildest finish came on Sunday in Detroit, where the Tigers rallied twice with late home runs against Boston's beleaguered bullpen for a 13-12 victory.

"You don't see those kinds of games at this level very often," said Alex Avila, the Tigers catcher. "There's really no rhyme nor reason nor explanation for it."

Avila's two-run shot with two outs in the bottom of the 11th gave Detroit the victory, leaving the Red Sox without a win under Bobby Valentine, the new manager.

It was the first time the Red Sox have lost when scoring 12 runs or more since a 22-13 defeat against the Chicago White Sox in 1970.

"This is a work in progress," Valentine said. "We're still trying to figure it out."

So are the rival Yankees, who started with three consecutive losses at Tampa Bay. The Rays, who took advantage of Boston's record collapse to win the AL wild card last year, matched their best start in club history (2002).

The last time New York were 0-3 they went on to win 114 games and the 1998 World Series.

"At times it seems magnified when it's the beginning of the year," said Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager. "We've all been through three-game losing streaks. This is a resilient club. We'll be fine."

Atlanta's meltdown last year mirrored that of the Red Sox. The Braves had a 10-game lead over the St Louis Cardinals for the NL wild card but were eliminated on the final night of the regular season. They have been just as sluggish to start 2012. Atlanta batted .151 and managed all of seven runs in a three-game sweep by the New York Mets.

"It's never good to come into the season and get swept," said Brian McCann, the Braves catcher.

"Nobody in here is thinking about last year."

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