NESN is apparently on a different rotation this year with its anchors, or they had to shuffle Eckersley and Macha around for some reason, but now we get a double dose of Eck in as many weeks, just in time for a Beckett start, and what I call a good night on NESN: Eckersley previews Beckett, Beckett kicks ass, Eckersley fawns over Beckett, using the words "gas" and "cheese" many, many times, each time with a smidge more intensity.
I looked forward to this all day. I tell ya.
It wasn't the 8 Vintage-Pedro-style innings I called for, but, well, I was aiming high. Beckett looked more than sharp tonight; the extra rest while being able to throw on the side has given the fastball extra turbo fuel. The curveball was nasty. And the changeup was the filthiest of all. I love Beckett's balance when he pitches, especially when he throws a big breaking pitch and balances just for that split second with his right leg parallel with his head. Sometimes it seems like the brim of his hat brushes the ground, but his legs always seem to stay straight.
Tonight's great Beckett moment was the moment in the third inning when a daisy-cutter off the bat of Josh Barfield bounced back toward the mound. Slow-motion replays showed the ball screaming toward Beckett's knee, then ankle, as he fell off through the end of his delivery. Then he took a step forward as the ball struck the mound with enough force to spring back almost straight up in the air before falling toward shortstop, where Lugo handled it for the out. I had approximately ten heart attacks thinking it'd hit Beckett's leg, but turns out he stepped forward at exactly the right moment to avoid the ball both on its way in and its way back up. Didn't even touch him. Then he struck out Mike Rouse swinging to end the inning and walked off with a look back toward the infield like, "As if." You better like 'em cocky if you're gonna be a Beckett fan.
Meanwhile, tying run at the plate in the ninth with two out? Yawn. Our other lights-out closer will be seeing you out. The word Eckersley used was "frightening" to describe this Red Sox squad.
Whaddya say, Dice-K? Can we sweep the second-best team in the American League?