Beckett throws three scoreless innings

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Beckett throws three scoreless innings

JUPITER, Fla. Josh Beckett pitched three scoreless innings against the Cardinals Thursday afternoon, allowing two hits with no walks and no strikeouts. He threw 30 pitches, 24 for strikes.

Beckett, who left with no score, was satisfied with his outing.

I think I threw everything I wanted to throw, he said.

He faced a Cardinals lineup that featured many of their regulars, including Matt Holliday, who doubled to left in the first inning, and David Freese, who scalded a ball to shortstop Jose Iglesias in the second, the only hits off Beckett.

Yeah, thats a good lineup, Beckett said. They hit three balls hard. Its nice because you kind of got a little bit -- not saying the other guys cant hit, anybody with a bat up there can hit -- but its nice kind of just gauging yourself even this early on.

Despite throwing 24 of his 30 pitches for strikes, Beckett thought his command was similar to his last start, Sunday against the Twins.

Just building up arm strength right now, he said. A lot of the feel and stuff comes whenever your arm strength gets strong and then you can kind of plus and minus something a little harder or maybe take something off.

He said his breaking pitches were just so-so."

"Its getting there," he said. "A work in progress.

He explained that he mixed in more changeups than curveballs.

The game was delayed by rain for 36 minutes in the top of the fourth, but Beckett was not returning for a fourth inning no matter what. He was replaced by left-hander Felix Doubront.

First impressions: Red Sox lose to Yankees, still clinch AL East

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First impressions: Red Sox lose to Yankees, still clinch AL East

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Yankees:

 

* The Red Sox couldn't have asked any more from Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz turned in what was likely his best start of the season, tossing six shutout innings while yielding just one hit -- an infield hit at that.

Brett Gardner was the only New York hitter to solve him. The leadoff hitter walked twice and reached on a slow roller to third, the only hit Buchholz allowed.

Twice, Buchholz retired eight Yankees in a row. He consistently pitched ahead in the count and showed a good rhythm on the mound.

Only a few months ago, the notion of Buchholz being part of the Red Sox' postseason rotation was laughable. Now, the Red Sox view him as a dependable, consistent starter.

And why not? Over his last seven starts, Buchholz is 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

Funny how quickly things can change in baseball.

 

* Don't invite Craig Kimbrel to your celebration.

Kimbrel came on for the bottom of the ninth, with a 3-0 lead and needing just three outs.

He barely threw a strike, allowing a leadoff single and three straight walks, the latter of which forced in a run.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Toronto had already lost, clinching the division title for the Sox before the bottom half of the inning began.

Still, it was troubling to watch Kimbrel. This was, after all, a save situation, even if some of the adrenaline was taken away by the Blue Jays' loss.

Kimbrel seemed completely incapable of throwing a strike. At all.

Hardly the way you want your closer to be a week before your first post-season game.

 

* The Red Sox lineup poses all sorts of problems for opposing managers.

In the eighth, Joe Girardi had a choice to make -- pitch to David Ortiz with two on and first base open. Or walk Ortiz and pitch to Mookie Betts, with Hanley Ramirez waiting on deck.

Pick your poison.

Girardi picked incorrectly, though there might not have been a correct one.

That's what happens when you face three hitters in a row with 110 RBI or more.

 

Red Sox clinch AL East with Orioles victory over Blue Jays

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Red Sox clinch AL East with Orioles victory over Blue Jays

NEW YORK -- The Boston Red Sox have won the AL East, clinching the division championship when the Toronto Blue Jays lost to Baltimore.

David Ortiz and the Red Sox, who had already secured at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs, will open their postseason schedule Oct. 6 seeking a second World Series crown in four years. The team's first opponent has not been determined yet.

Boston's game against the New York Yankees in the middle of the ninth inning Wednesday night when the Orioles finished off their 3-2 victory at second-place Toronto. The Red Sox began the night needing a win or a Toronto loss to wrap up their eighth AL East title.