First pitch: More of the same from Beckett in Dodgers debut

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First pitch: More of the same from Beckett in Dodgers debut

DENVER -- The Red Sox hit the re-set button on their season when they pulled off a nine-player megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend.

Josh Beckett, one of the four Red Sox players to be sent to the Dodgers, tried to do the same in a manner of speaking. Unable to wear his customary No. 19 -- the number is retired by the Dodgers in honor of Junior Gilliam -- he asked for and received No. 61, the same number he wore when he first arrived to the big leagues.

New team, new start.

But Monday's debut was distressingly similar for Beckett: not bad, but not nearly good enough. And most familiar of all, not good enough for him to pick up a win. Beckett has just one since May 20.

In pitching 5 23 innings and allowing three runs for his new team, Beckett pitched the way he frequently did for his old team.

"Josh was OK,'' concluded his new manager, Don Mattingly, after the Dodgers bullpen turned the night into a 10-0 laugher for the Colorado Rockies. "He kept us in the game. At the end of the day, we didn't do enough to win. He ends up giving up three, but he gave us some time to put a run or two on the board.''

The start featured another recurring pattern for Beckett: falling behind early. With the Red Sox, Beckett allowed 23 first-inning runs in 21 starts, the most runs allowed in the first inning by any starter in the American League.

In his Dodgers debut, he stuck to the script, allowing a mammoth homer to right to Tyler Colvin on his second pitch of the game. Asked what he was thinking, two pitches into his Dodger career, Beckett, with charachtestic bluntness, offered: "I thought I made a pretty (expletive) pitch.''

He kicked himself for two other pitches: both in the sixth inning, helping to account for the third and final run charged to him.

Winless in his last seven starts, Beckett wouldn't characterize the outing as progress.

"I felt like I made some pitches when I needed to,'' said Beckett, ''and then didn't make some when I needed to. You try to make the majority of them.''

Unlike a few seasons ago, Beckett doesn't make enough of them consistently. Which isn't to say he can't be successful with L.A., especially considering that he'll make half of his starts in spacious and forgiving Dodger Stadium.

It helps, too, that, with the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers now have, by far, the best lineup in the N.L. West.

But as is the case with most pitchers in transition, the margin for error is now slimmer.

Beckett proved he can thrive with less than power-pitcher stuff last year when he went into the final week of August with an ERA under 2.40. In the American League East, no less.

Now, in a division designed for pitching, he should do better. When he's not pitching at Chavex Ravine, he can take refuge in cavernous Petco Park and pitcher-friendly San Francisco's AT&T Park.

"I though his stuff was OK,'' said Mattingly. "(Chad) Billingsley just got done rolling off six in a row and he's throwing 92 mph. Josh is throwing 92 mph. Josh can win with his stuff. He kept us in the game. He's still making quality pitches and his breaking ball is good. Again, he's not 96-97 mph anymore but he's stiil a guy with good enough stuff and can locate enough that he's going to win.''

Just not Monday night. And just not very often this season, for that matter.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'a pitch or two from finishing the job' vs. Rays

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox 'a pitch or two from finishing the job' vs. Rays

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"Part of that job is, when you miss, you have to miss to the extreme.'' - John Farrell on the role of eighth-inning reliever Clay Buchholz, who mislocated a fastball to Evan Longoria.

"We're putting ourselves in position to close games out and yet we've found ourselves a pitch or two from finishing the job.'' - Farrell on the team's bullpen woes.

"Fastball. I was trying to throw it up-and-away, and I pulled it, more inner-third. That's a spot where he hits the ball a long way.'' - Clay Buchholz on the game-winning homer by Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The Rays and Sox have played 21 one-run games in the lasr four seasons and four in the last week.

* David Ortiz's sacrifice fly in the sixth was his 26th go-ahead RBI, fourth-best in the A.L.

* Xander Bogaerts collected his 500th career hit, and became the fifth Red Sox player to reach that milestone before turning 24.

* Brock Holt's double in the fifth lifted his average to .337 with two outs.

* Hanley Ramirez's home run was his first against Tampa Bay since May 21, 2011 when he was with the Marlins.

* Ramirez has 19 extra-base hits in the last 27 home games.

* Dustin Pedroia was 1-for-3 and and is now 15-for-his-last-19 at Fenway.

* The Sox dropped to 7-37 when they score three runs or fewer.

* Brad Ziegler was unavailable, suffering from the flu.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

It wouldn't be a Rays win over the Red Sox without the third baseman doing some damage. Sure enough, he smoked a tape-measure shot over everything in left in the eighth to provide the winning margin for the visitors.

2) Luke Maile

Drew Pomeranz struck him out twice, but Maile more than got revenge in the seventh with a two-run homer into the Monster Seats to tie the game.

3) Hanley Ramirez

The first baseman had a three-hit night, including a solo homer and a run-scoring single, accounting for two of the three Red Sox runs.

 

First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay:

* There's a steep learning curve for a set-up man, as Clay Buchholz discovered.

Although he's pitched out of the bullpen for the last couple of months, most of those appearances weren't of the high leverage variety. More often than not, the Sox had a sizeable lead, or Buchholz was brought in earlier in the game. Or they were behind and he was mopping up.

But Tuesday was different. The Rays had battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and after Matt Barnes got the final out in that inning, Buchholz came in to start the eighth.

After getting Kevin Kiermaier on a groundout to lead off the inning, Buchholz threw a four-seamer to Evan Longoria that the Tampa Bay third baseman launched toward the Charles River, clearing everything and putting the Rays up by a run.

It was a reminder that in late innings of close games, one pitch, with missed location, can really hurt.

 

* Hanley Ramirez knocked in two runs. He was sort of lucky.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez hit a twisting opposite-field fly ball down the right field line. It landed just past the Pesky Pole in right, measured at 307 feet, the shortest homer in baseball this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Then, an inning later, Ramirez hit a pop fly that drifted into shallow right. Three Rays defenders converged -- first baseman, second baseman and right fielder -- and somehow the ball dropped in between all three for a run-scoring single.

Two cheap hits, two RBI.

At times, you'll see hitters mash the ball, only to have it hit right at someone for an out. Rotten luck, and all.

Tuesday night, Ramirez got to experience the flip side of that.

 

* Drew Pomeranz had an excellent outing -- until his final pitch of the night.

Through 6 2/3 innings, Pomeranz had allowed a single run on four hits while walking two and striking out eight.

He had retired 10 of the previous 11 hitters he had faced, and while he was approaching his 100th pitch, showed no evidence of tiring.

Then, Pomernaz hung a curveball to No. 9 hitter Luke Maile -- with two strikes, no less -- and Maile hit into the Monster Seats for a game-tying, two-run homer.

It was the first homer on a curveball allowed by Pomeranz in 153 innings this season, and all of a sudden, the outing wasn't so special.