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

First pitch: More of the same from Beckett in Dodgers debut
August 28, 2012, 2:02 pm
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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.