(photo by Sam)
Now this is more like it...
Josh Beckett vs. Zack Greinke for Appointment Television on Saturday. Greinke had been showered with gifts during Friday's pregame ceremonies for the Cy Young award he won last year, but Beckett was the better pitcher 24 hours later, surrendering three runs over seven innings, his longest career start in Kansas City (previous high water mark, per NESN, was 6 and 2/3).
That completed seventh inning almost came at too dear a price, though. He gave up four hits and two runs in that inning alone, one shy of the number of hits he'd surrendered for the whole game (5) and tripling his run total for the game. Prior to that seventh inning, I had thought Beckett might be able to spare us the bullpen; that one inning took care of that idea.
He still got the win, but the best news was, literally, that he survived the inning.
David DeJesus hit a line drive that scored Chris Getz, and just grazed the back of Beckett's head on its way to center field. A millimeter left or right, a nanosecond slower in reaction time, and we're looking at a Matt Clement situation, or even worse.
The ball still glanced off Beckett, and he grabbed at the back of his head with a grimace (as the Globe's Peter Abraham put it, "swatted at the back of his head like a man annoyed by a mosquito"), but nobody in the dugout noticed. (It took two or three replays on NESN before they saw definitively that the ball changed direction.)
It was clear Beckett was fine, thankfully, when he finally walked off the field after that long inning, almost tripping over a ball on his way off, calling himself an "f'in idiot" and heading back to the dugout to curse for another few minutes. There but for the grace of God.
Beckett's first start, with Victor Martinez behind the plate:
|IP 4.2||H 8||R||5||ER 5 BB 3||SO 1||HR 2|
Beckett's start Saturday, with Tek catching:
|IP 7.0||H 9||R 3||ER 3||BB 1||SO 4||HR 0|
It would be easy to imagine Tek becoming Beckett's caddy, the way Dougie used to be for Wake, but what happens once you get to the playoffs, Beckett has grown used to Tek as a security blanket, and you need V-Mart's bat in the lineup? Then again, Tek did hit two homers yesterday; maybe coming off the bench will suit him hitting-wise.
As with everything else, too soon to tell, of course.
- Clay Buchholz also made a pretty decent case for keeping his spot in the rotation when / if Daisuke is reactivated. I hear the Diceman made a nice rehab start the other day, but Buchholz started the season when he was supposed to, and I like the way he seems to be developing, despite his rough spots (like giving up a leadoff hit in every inning he pitched today). I would hate to see Buchholz denied playing / learning time because we're still trying to squeeze blood from the Daisuke stone.
- Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon were set up with a hold / save 8th and 9th and went scoreless. Bard was hitting 98-99 on the gun and Papelbon threw the split fairly well. Papelbon looks a little funny, like he's throwing across his body a little too much (A little too much like a merry go round rather than a Ferris wheel, which is the opposite of how he once described his ideal motion). But whatever, he got the save, and here's hoping this is the beginning of the bullpen permanently getting its shit together this season.
- Big Papi had four strikeouts today. Jeremy Hermida hit a homer yesterday and had an RBI today. Yeah.
- Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jacoby Ellsbury, who was kneed accidentally in the chest by Adrian Beltre while both were going for a foul popup. This followed a previous miscue between left field and left infield that resulted in a dropped ball. Now that we know Ellsbury's ribs aren't broken (which had seemed a possibility), hopefully they'll work out the communication over on that side of the field.