Beckett's early struggles put pregame routine into question

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Beckett's early struggles put pregame routine into question

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.

Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

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Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

Quotes, notes, and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Yankees.

QUOTES:

* "He gathered himself and got a little rhythm as the night went along.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That's a rarity for Betances to leave his breaking ball up like he did. Once David saw it up, he attacked.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz's game-winning homer.

* "There's no sign of him slowing down. Tonight is a prime example of it. Key moment, big hit when we need it. There's a long resume there and it's continuing to build.'' - Farrell on Ortiz's ability to deliver in the clutch.

* "There were some mechanical adjustments that I made. I came out a little erratic, trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much. But as game went on, I kind of got into a rhythm.'' - Owens on his start.

* "I saw him throw a lot of breaking pitches to Mookie. The one they hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's the kind of pitcher that, if you go up there looking for everything he's got, you're done.'' - Ortiz on his game-winning homer off Dellin Betances.

NOTES:

* Over his career, David Ortiz has hit 29 go-ahead homers from the eighth inning on.

* Ortiz has eight homers in his last 24 games against the Yankees.

* The win was the first this season for the Red Sox in a game in which they were tied or trailing after seven innings.

* The Red Sox have won five of their last six and seven of their last 10.

* The Yankees have been limited to three runs or fewer in their last six games.

* In 21 games, the Yankees have faced 10 lefty starters; in 22 games, the Red Sox have faced two.

* Masahiro Tanaka has issued just one walk in his last three starts.

STARS:

1) David Ortiz

With one swing of the bat, Ortiz untied a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a game-winning two-run homer.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley's penchant for delivering a big hit continued as he rapped a two-run double to left in the seventh to erase a 2-0 Yankee lead.

3) Masahiro Tanaka

He shut the Red Sox for six innings before allowing three hits and two runs in the seventh.

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

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First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win: Ortiz has flair for the dramatic

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over New York Yankees...

* David Ortiz still has a flair for the dramatic.

Matched against Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, Ortiz cracked a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. Ortiz now has 18 RBI in 23 games -- he didn't start in four of those games - and at 40, remains the one hitter opposing teams want to face with the game on the line.

Before the homer, Ortiz was 0-for-7 against Betances, with four strikeouts.

* All things considered, Henry Owens did OK.

Owens didn't fool anybody. He couldn't command his fastball, and when the Yankees did hit it, they hit it pretty hard. He walked three and hit another. But Owens managed to limit the damage in a big way, allowing just two hits in six innings despite 10 baserunners.

Occasionally, he would get bailed out by his changeup, which seems to be the lone pitch he has that is better than average by major league standards.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to hit when it counts.

Bradley got the Red Sox offense going with a two-run, two-out double off Masahiro Tanaka, when the Sox were down to their final seven outs.

In the last week along, Bradley hit an extra-inning homer; a solo homer that represented the only run of the game; a ninth-inning triple; and Friday's big two-base hit.

That he has 10 RBI from the bottom of the order suggests he can provide some sock from that spot.

* Matt Barnes continues to make strides.

Since allowing a homer to Kevin Kiermaier on the last homestand, Barnes has allowed just one run in his last four appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .208 batting average (5-for-24).

* The Yankees bullpen gets all the attention, but in relief of Owens, Barnes, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel faced nine hitters and retired them all.