Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Rapid reaction: Red Sox 5, Mariners 0
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- Maybe this is why the extra TV cameras were here Tuesday afternoon -- they were anticipating the sight of a Red Sox pitcher succumbing to tears on the mound.
That's what people do in reality shows, isn't it?
But while Josh Beckett complained last week that he'd become the reluctant star of Off-Days of Our Lives, he managed to shift attention back to the ball field Tuesday afternoon with an outing as dominating as his last effort was depressing.
Tim Wakefield, honored before the game in a touching ceremony, was the only person in a Red Sox uniform weeping Tuesday, when the Red Sox closed out a six-game homestand with their fifth straight win, 5-0 over the Seattle Mariners.
Beckett, who turned 32 on Tuesday, struck out 7 of the first 11 Mariners he faced on his way to seven scoreless innings in which he allowed just four hits, walked two and finished with nine whiffs.
That was a dramatic turnaround from his previous effort, in which he lasted just seven outs while giving up seven runs, making him a jumbo-sized target for those who had questioned his decision to play golf a day after the club had announced he was physically unable to make his next start because of a strained back muscle.
The withering boos Beckett heard as he left the mound last Thursday were merely a warmup to the cascade of criticism he endured after a postgame press conference in which he essentially invited everyone to butt out of his life, stating that what he did on his day off was no one's business but his own.
Given that "Josh Beckett: I Answer to No One But Me" was probably not the marketing slogan the Sox had in mind for the man who supposedly sets the tone for the starting rotation, interest in his next start heightened, which probably accounted for the cameras of ESPN, among others, to be present when he took the mound Tuesday.
But there were no sideshows Tuesday, just Beckett toying with the overmatched Mariners, who advanced only one runner to third base -- Ichiro Suzuki, who took advantage of Beckett's indifference to what he did by stealing second and third with two out and the Sox ahead by four runs in the sixth.
Beckett's performance meant that the Sox made it one full turn through the rotation in which each of their five starters was credited with a win, the most encouraging development during a streak that has drawn the Sox to within two games of .500 (17-19) after they'd begun the month of May with losses in 8 of their first 9 games.
David Ortiz homered over the visitors' bullpen to give the Sox a 1-0 lead in the third, the homer his eighth of the season.
Daniel Nava, who has been a catalyst since his recall last week, was in the middle of a two-run Sox rally in the fourth, his single sending Cody Ross, who had walked, to third. Mike Aviles doubled home one run, and an infield out scored the other.
Ortiz's surprise bunt single in the fifth led to another run, Will Middlebrooks bringing home Ortiz with a wall-ball single, accounting for his 14th RBI in just a dozen games. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, playing for the first time since his 5-RBI game Sunday, doubled and scored on another double by Aviles in the eighth.
The Sox outscored the Mariners, 11-1, in this two-game set, and in their five wins against Cleveland and Seattle outscored their opponents, 34-8. They head to St. Petersburg, Fla., after the game for the start of an eight-game trip bookended by games against AL East rivals Tampa Bay (2) and Baltimore (3), with an interleague three-game set against the Phillies in between.