Beckett buries Sox with another bad start

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
12:07
AM ET



BOSTON -- No uniform shredding Friday night.

Just a few more dents and dings to Josh Beckett's reputation.

Fresh off one of the season's most dramatic wins, Beckett took all the air out of Fenway Park in just two innings. That's the time it took for the Sox to fall behind the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0, and this time they never recovered, losing 6-1 before a crowd of 38,093 that contained the rarest of elements -- entire sections chanting, "Let's go, Blue Jays," a sound rarely (never?) heard in the Fens.

Giving up early runs has been a constant theme for Beckett, and Friday was no exception. The Jays scored twice in the first on Colby Rasmus' triple over the head of Cody Ross, a disputed safe call at home plate on an attempted tag play by Kelly Shoppach after a ground ball to third, and two more ground-ball base hits that found holes.

Beckett has allowed 19 earned runs in 16 innings for a 10.69 ERA in the first inning, including 10 of the 14 runs he has allowed in his past three starts. He didn't get a call when he needed it, umpire Sam Holbrook ruling that Rasmus had gotten his hand in even though Shoppach had the plate blocked on Edwin Encarnacion's ground ball to third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

[+] EnlargeJosh Beckett
Bob DeChiara/US PresswireBeset by more early-inning issues, Josh Beckett failed to win at Fenway once again.
"He didn't have a real big lead off of third," Middlebrooks said, explaining why he went for the play at home. "I was playing about halfway in, so I knew I had a shot at home and I took the shot. I was trying to save a run for Josh."

Middlebrooks made the right play, for Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

"I mean, he was out pretty easily," Valentine said. "It wasn't like a bang-bang play."

Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia followed with base hits bounced through the infield, and the Jays had a 2-0 lead.

But whatever limited sympathy Beckett engendered in the first inning was gone by the second, when Yunel Escobar doubled, Beckett issued a two-out walk to Anthony Gose after getting ahead 0-and-2, and Rasmus hit the next pitch for a double to drive home both runners.

The Gose at-bat was when Beckett needed to rise up and show he was still Josh Almighty Beckett against a kid called up just three days ago because Jays slugger Jose Bautista went on the disabled list with what the Jays are calling an inflamed left wrist. Instead, Beckett missed with two cutters, then missed with two curveballs to extend the inning.

"You've got to make the 2-2 pitch or the 3-2 pitch, and I didn't do that," Beckett said.

There was still an exit strategy available, but instead Rasmus, who had hit a good curveball from Beckett for his triple, honed in on a first-pitch fastball, and smoked it into left-center. Escobar scored easily and Gose flew around the bases to make it 4-0.

"I think he'd take back that 3-2 pitch to the leadoff hitter (Gose)," Valentine said.

"Letting the 3-2 curveball to walk the leadoff hitter, I think he lost a little concentration and threw a fastball over the plate to Rasmus on the next pitch; before we know it, it's two runs."

Beckett allowed only an unearned run in his last four innings, but this time there was no late-inning uprising like the one that Cody Ross had capped with a three-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning Thursday to beat the White Sox.

The veteran right-hander now has just one win in eight starts dating back to May 26, and the Sox have lost six of them. He lost despite 12 swings and misses, 12 ground balls, and seven strikeouts in his six innings of work. "Pretty good stuff," Valentine said.

Small consolation.

"I can't say that I'm looking at a whole lot of positives from that outing," Beckett said. "I got burned whenever I didn't make pitches."

For the second straight night, meanwhile, a left-handed starter shut down the Sox. Thursday, it was White Sox rookie Jose Quintana, who limited the Sox to five hits in eight scoreless innings. Friday night, it was Aaron Laffey, who went seven scoreless on eight singles, tacking on to the six scoreless he threw here June 26.

Well, Valentine had said before the game he didn't believe in momentum. That wasn't the case, he said, after their 10-1 win Wednesday, and wouldn't be Friday night, either.

"I think that you can have momentum in a game or in an inning, but I don't think yesterday necessarily carries over," Valentine said. "Other than that, you have a good feeling when the game starts. You know, 10 runs, sometimes you get a little overconfident. Everyone gets hits, they figure it's going to be easy. It's never easy at the major league level, never. As soon as you think it is easy, that's when it gets really difficult."

The Sox for the second straight night did all their scoring in the ninth, a run coming across on a force play. Pinch hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out to end it, his 19th strikeout in his past 30 at-bats.

It certainly hasn't been easy against the Jays, who have split 10 games against the Sox this season. Both teams were missing thunder Friday night -- Jose Bautista on the DL for the Jays, David Ortiz on the DL for the Sox.

The Jays were part of a 10-player deal Friday in which they added three pitchers, a signal they want to stay in the hunt for a postseason spot. Trade rumors, meanwhile, continue to swirl around the Sox, who are being linked to most every available starting pitcher (Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Francisco Liriano). Beckett's performance Friday didn't shred those rumors.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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