The Boston Red Sox had all the momentum in the world coming into last night's game against the New York Yankees after taking four straight from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And early on, Josh Beckett looked to be carrying it over as he struck out five of the first six batters he faced.
Then in the 4th inning with two runners on and a 2-2 count to Nick Swisher, Beckett made a mistake. He left a 2-2 curveball up in the zone and Swisher took advantage of it by blasting it to straightaway center field for a 3-run homer. He recovered back in the 5th as set the Yankees down 1-2-3.
The big problem for Beckett though came in the 6th inning when his command decided to leave early and head to local watering hole.
Alex Rodriguez led off with a double and then he plunked Robinson Cano on the knee, who ended up leaving the game. A passed ball moved the runners up but Beckett struck out Swisher for the first out. They then decided to intentionally walk Brett Gardner to load up the bases and setup a double-play.
That didn't work out though as Beckett's command issues took over and he walked Francisco Cervelli, gave up a single to Randy Winn, plunked Derek Jeter and then gave up back-to-back singles to Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira. By the time the inning ended with all the damage done, the Red Sox found themselves trailing 9-1.
It's been a trying season for Beckett to say the least. He started with rough outing against the Yanks on opening day and then signed a contract extension the next day. Since then, he's had a few great outings, a few poor outings and one that was downright terrible.
There doesn't seem to be anything physically ailing Beckett so you have to wonder what the problem is. He really seemed to be just cruising along and then made the mistake. But like any good pitcher, he made the adjustment and came back to get three outs. But there's really no explanation as to what happened in the 6th. Did he just flat run out of gas? Or was it a mental thing? Judging from these comments from Beckett, it seems to be a mental thing.
“I just had no idea where the ball was going,’’ Beckett said. “Hit Cano with a cutter, and then Jeter with the bases loaded with a sinker in. Trying to throw the ball too hard. Just trying to throw better pitches instead of worry about location, worrying about velocity.
“Just when you try to overthrow like that, your delivery gets all messed up. You’re not worried about execution. That’s what you should be worried about.’’
Beckett had just come off a good outing in Toronto and now back to this. The Red Sox will need him to bounce back as the gap between the Rays and Yankees grows larger. And oddly enough, despite all those rough outings, last night's loss was just his first this season.
We'll be back later with the lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links but for now enjoy the links from the overnight.