BOSTON After giving up two runs to the Blue Jays in the first inning Friday night, Josh Becketts already bloated first-inning ERA rose to 10.69, while his already robust opponents batting average also went up, to .343.
Those numbers are well above his career stats in the first inning: 4.62 ERA and .251 opponents average. They are also well above his numbers for all subsequent innings this season: 3.38 and 2.41.
Begging the question: What can be done about Becketts first-inning struggles? Change his pregame routine? Start his warm-ups earlier? What?
Josh warms up earlier than anybody in the history of baseball I think, said manager bobby Valentine before Saturdays game against the Jays. Earlier. Now the question would be, should he warm up later? Maybe. But this is a dog that is hard to teach a new trick to. Hes been very successful warming up as early as he warms up. But Ive never seen anybody have the break that he has in between the time he warms up and the time he goes out there.
I never put a clock on it. But sometimes the other pitcher is just playing catch when hes throwing on the mound in the bullpen.
Im not saying thats wrong. Hes been that way. Catchers dont mind it because they come in and get a big break before the game.
Pitching coach Bob McClure and he have had a lot of conversations about itor enough conversations that I would only add to the chatter, to the noise. I dont think hes any more upset with the first inning than I am or anybody else is. Hes trying to figure it out, too. And yesterday there was a groundball to third. Will Middlebrooks threw it home to take the guy out. Thats not a first-inning problem. And a heck of a pitch. Pretty good pitch on the triple by Colby Rasmus, who scored the first run.
Valentine also acknowledged a change in Becketts pregame routine wouldnt necessary guarantee different first-inning results:
I dont know that change in habits going to do anything other than to give an answer to the question Is he doing anything different? Valentine said. Oh, yeah, hes doing something different. Big deal. That means all of a sudden somethings going to change? I was confident he was going to go out yesterday and put up a zero. Im confident next time he goes out there hes going to put up a zero in the first inning.