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.

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

Big Papi's Papi was taken by surprise at retirement announcement

BOSTON - David Ortiz may be masterful in the clutch and one of the more charitable athletes in the city, but much like anyone else, Big Papi doesn’t always inform his own Papi of news right away -- even if he plans to announce it to the general public.

“He actually didn’t tell me [that he planned to announce his retirement],” Enrique Ortiz, David’s father, said through a Red Sox’ translator on Saturday before the next-to-last regular-season game. “I was in the Dominican Republic when he announced it in the states.

While Enrique would explain -- humbly -- how proud he was of his son, he’s not so sure announcing his retirement before the season was the correct move.

“If I was [in America], I would have told him not to announce his retirement,” the elder Ortiz explained, “just because there’s so many things that can happen in a season. Or you might have a change of heart after the season.

“If I were here I would have told him to stay neutral so his options were more open. So I wouldn’t have told him to retire.”

Although dad wasn’t on board with his son’s announcement, he’s done what any good parent does -- bite their tongue and let things play out.

“I haven’t told him anything about why he's retiring because I know it’s coming from him and it’s his decision,” Enrique said. “But when I look back to 2013, I remember coming here and I see him with what looks like two cats on his feet. And I’m like ‘What happened to my boy? Did he get into an accident or something?’ And what he told me was, ‘This is how you son is making this money, doing all of this stuff before a game.’ So [him retiring] is not a surprise to me.”

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

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Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: E-Rod on mound, Bogaerts back to 2-hole

The Red Sox (93-67) look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the A.L. playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series with the Cleveland Indians (92-67) with a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays tonight at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.68 ERA) to the mound against left-hander J.A. Happ (20-4, 3.20). Rodriguez is expected to pitch either Game 3 or 4 of the Division Series against the Indians next week.

If both teams finish with 94 wins, the Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians, based on Boston winning the season series, 4-2. The Indians may have to play a makeup game Monday with the Detroit Tigers.

The Jays are a game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the top A.L. wild-card spot and hold a half-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for the second wild-card spot. 

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts moves back to his customary No. 2 spot in the batting order after hitting sixth Friday night. Right-handed hitting Aaron Hill is at third base and Christian Vazquez catches for Boston.

There will be the second of three ceremonies this weekend to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz before the game.  

The lineups:

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Christian Vazquez C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
Jose Bautista DH
Russell Martin C
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Kevin Pillar CF
Ezequiel Carrera RF
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J.A. Happ LHP