The (Real) Beckett Is Back
Josh Beckett (14-6) had his first good outing in a long while on Labor Day afternoon, as he gave up just three runs to White Sox hitters over seven innings at U.S. Cellular Field. Unfortunately, Red Sox hitters, even with a hot-streaking Mike Lowell starting at DH in place of the ice cold Big Papi, couldn’t score more than one run off the quick-working lefty Mark Buehrle (12-7), who scattered eight hits in seven innings, all but one of them singles. Boston’s silent bats, which went 1-for-6 with RISP, combined with one bad inning for Beckett – the bottom of the third, in which gave up all his runs - allowed Buehrle to earn his first win since his perfect game July 23 vs. the Rays. The final score was 5-1.
The good news, besides only surrendering three runs (normally enough to win a game), was that Beckett gave up zero homers. Before Monday’s matinee, Beckett was the first Red Sox pitcher since 1954 to allow multiple homers in (a career-high) 5 straight starts. This is especially unusual since he had allowed none in his previous 5 starts before that and only 10 homers in his first 22 outings of 2009. If Beckett can continue to avoid the big bomb and solve “the big inning” problem in ensuing starts, he and the Sox will eventually be rewarded with wins.
Alex Gonzalez Heats Up With the Glove and Bat
Contrary to rumors that Gonzalez has lost a step or two defensively in ’09, the shortstop is still not only deadly accurate throwing to first and second base but to home plate on relay plays to save runs; he threw out Chicago’s Mark Kotsay yesterday and Toronto’s Travis Snider about 11 days ago. But in a pleasantly surprising development, he now has an 11-game hitting streak going into Tuesday’s action, tied for third-highest in all of baseball - V-Mart’s right behind him with a 10-game streak of his own. He’s batting .310 during the streak but unfortunately, hitting is literally the ONLY way he has gotten on base for Boston, as he has yet to draw one walk in 79 at-bats. That’s going to have to change if he’s going to continue to succeed at the plate. Still, whether Gonzalez walks or hits enough is the least of Terry Francona’s worries right now.