MINNEAPOLIS -- After the first inning Tuesday night, it seemed like Josh Beckett might have an abbreviated start. The only question was whether he'd leave because of Bobby Valentine or home plate umpire Adrian Johnson.
Beckett, handed a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, gave up a base hit to the first hitter he faced, and after a fielder's choice, proceeded to walk the next three hitters, forcing in a run.
The pitcher gave long stares to Johnson, unhappy with being squeezed on some borderline pitches. When the inning was over, 37 pitches later, he turned toward Johnson and, TV replays showed, shouted that because of Johnson's strike zone, Beckett had had to get "five (expletive) outs.''
But perhaps it wasn't all bad. Beckett righted himself after that, allowing just one run over the next five innings and, tellingly no more walks as the Sox cruised to an 11-2 win.
"He got a little frustrated, possibly, but it really turned up his competitive fluids,'' said Valentine. "He wasn't going to be denied the victory. After the first inning, he threw strikes, got ahead and he wasn't going to let this one get away. We needed that kind of performance.
"He was into it. I haven't seen Josh like that. It really seemed like that this was a game he really wanted.''
Beckett wouldn't discuss his displeasure with Johnson's strike zone ("We won. I want to talk about that''), and he didn't necessarily agree with Valentine's assertion that the reaction might have been a benefit to him.
"I don't know,'' said Beckett. "Sometimes I think you can waste too much energy with that stuff. Today, it apparently helped our guys because they scored 11 runs. (But for me) it's a waste of energy and I don't need to waste energy.''
Whatever the motivation, Beckett was far more economical after the first. He needed just 63 pitches for the final 15 outs after needing 37 for the first three.
And he fanned the side in the sixth inning, finishing with a flourish.
"I probably threw a few more strikes,'' said Beckett of his turnaround. "They were pretty aggressive after (the first inning). It was really about the offense today. They were really on their game.
"It was a battle for me today. I felt like the stuff was there, but the location was a little bit off. I was a little bit effectively wild, especially after the first inning."
This was Beckett's first road win since last Aug. 24 at Texas.