Beckett dominates in second straight outing

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Beckett dominates in second straight outing

PHILADELPHIA -- The golf outings, his availability for a 17-inning marathon and the severity of his lat injury all seem to be in Josh Beckett's rear-view mirror.

Instead, the focus is on Beckett's last two outings, during which he's pitched 14 23 innings and allowed a solitary run.

After tossing seven shutout innings last week against Seattle in the Red Sox' final game of the homestand, he was nearly as good Sunday in limiting the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in 7 23 innings.

In those two starts, Beckett has in no way resembled the same guy who was torched for seven runs in 2 23 innings against Cleveland on May 10, then was serenaded with boos from fans at Fenway Park.

"He was on the hill and taking control of the game," said Valentine. "He was aggressive in the strike zone with his fastball, his cutter, his curveball, his changeup. It looked like he wanted it."

The Beckett who pitched yesterday -- and one who pitched last Tuesday at Fenway -- in no way resembled the Beckett who was shelled two starts out.

"I just think he's throwing his curveball so much stronger," explained Valentine, "and his changeup (is better) with such good arm speed that he's controlling the head of the hitters."

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has been paired with Beckett for the last two, said Beckett must be viewed in the big picture, and not what the Indians did against him earlier this month.

"JB has been great a pitcher," said Saltalamacchia, who provided his battery-mate with a three-run homer in the third. "You can't (just) look at the last two times. You look at his career numbers and you can't say the last time out or two."

He and Beckett have been quick to form a a good working partnership after Beckett threw mostly to Kelly Shoppach earlier this season, and, of course, almost exclusively to Jason Varitek for much of his career here.

"It's fun," said Saltalamacchia. "He's a great pitcher. It's fun to be able to call any pitch, any time. Once you get to know what a guy likes to do and feels, it becomes a little easier. Especially when his stuff is working as well as it is, it's a no-brainer."

Beckett used his changeup and cutter to get plenty of ground balls. Ten of his first 21 outs were recorded on the ground, a sound strategy given how many balls were hit out of Citizen's Bank Ballpark this weekend.

"You have to make pitches when you need to," he said. "They had a couple of situations where they could have gotten back into the game and I felt like I made some good pitches and some guys made some good plays (behind me)."

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.

In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal. 

"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."

After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.

"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."

The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.

"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning?  Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.