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BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Josh Beckett left Tuesday's game against the Detroit Tigers in the top of the third inning because of back spasms.
"Locked up on me," Beckett said after the Red Sox's 4-1 rain-shortened win. "I've had this before. It's been worse."
Most notably he had "this" in 2010, when he left a rainy game in Yankee Stadium after slipping on a wet mound while delivering a pitch. The subsequent lower back strain caused him to miss more than two months.
In that case, Beckett winced after one specific delivery. He felt a sudden pull. This time, again in the rain, it built up over time. That gives him some confidence that he can just let it calm down and not miss much time.
"It was just the last few pitches, four or five pitches out of the stretch," he said. "In New York it was kind of one of those deals where I felt it on one pitch. This wasn't as severe. Like I said, it kept getting worse and I couldn't throw a strike."
Indeed, Beckett's command disappeared in rather rapid fashion against the Tigers. After retiring the first eight batters of the game, most in somewhat dry conditions, Beckett allowed an infield single with two outs in the third. As the rain began to intensify and the mound became more wet, he hit Austin Jackson on a 3-2 pitch, walked Quintin Berry on five pitches and did the same to Miguel Cabrera, forcing in the first run of the night.
Immediately after the walk to Cabrera, Beckett signaled to the dugout to have the trainer come to the mound. After a meeting that lasted a minute or so, he left the game to a rather significant round of boos.
Manager Bobby Valentine said that fans who booed may regret it once they realize what really occurred.
"He looked terrific out there, obviously, for the first eight hitters," Valentine said. "He was throwing out of the windup, in tough conditions in the rain, and when he got out of the windup the footing wasn't the same and his back spasmed up a little. Right now, he's got the aftermath of a back spasm. We'll take it day by day and we'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Beckett said that he had not considered whether this mound was as muddy as the one in the Bronx two years ago. After that start he expressed some displeasure with the decision to play a game in what were very difficult conditions. This time he took a more practical approach, citing the struggles of his counterpart, reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in five innings.
"The mound was a bit sloppy," said Beckett, who missed starts with the flu and a sprained ankle in 2011 and was on the disabled list in June of this year with right shoulder inflammation. "I think everybody was having trouble with it. You don't see Verlander walk that many guys. It just wasn't in great shape. That's stuff we're paid to deal with."
And Beckett is still being paid by the Red Sox, who did not trade away their maligned right-hander at the non-waiver trade deadline Tuesday. Instead, they forge ahead together hoping that the latest in a long line of physical issues for Beckett is not significant.Tony Lee is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.