BALTIMORE Its Groundhog Day all the time for Josh Beckett.
Hes trapped in one of his worst big league seasons and, more specifically, is in one of the worst ruts of that blah season.
Beckett was good early in Bostons 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, but started to show signs of trouble in the fifth before totally falling apart in the sixth frame that shifted the balance of the game. A Mark Reynolds home run in the fifth had given the Os a slim 2-1 lead, and a single and walk started problems for a tiring Beckett on a muggy night in Baltimore.
Then Matt Wieters chopped a groundball up the middle that somehow eluded Beckett, Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia and scored another run. A Chris Davis single scored another run to make it a 4-1 ballgame and Beckett was mercifully lifted from the game.
Unfortunately Mark Melancon came on in relief and a Reynolds bomb to left field made it a 7-1 ballgame that the downtrodden Sox had zero chance of coming back from.
In the sixth inning all kinds of expletive happened, said Beckett. I felt like I was down in the zone for the most part. It would be nice to win a game, but Ive got to pitch better. I cant put these guys in a hole like that.
Rookie backstop Ryan Lavarnway caught Becketts six innings of futility, but felt he was better than the box score will indicate.
I thought he threw better than his line is going to show, said Lavarnway. He left that one ball up to Omar Quintanilla, but he got a couple of ground balls in the sixth and we couldnt get the double play for him.
Bobby Valentine felt much the same way.
I thought Josh was as good as weve seen him in a while, said Valentine. Maybe a couple of mistakes to leadoff hitters for home runs, but in the sixth we get that check swing on a curveball. He didnt get it and then a high hopper over the mound and a seeing-eye single up the middle. Then after that it was Katie, bar the door.
Beckett finished with six hits and six runs allowed in 5 13 innings pitched in defeat, and heard a shower of boos from the Boston-heavy crowd at Camden Yards as he stalked off the field.
Yes, Beckett heard every last one of them and it appears the message was received as his ERA went up to 5.19 for the season.
Youve got to pitch better, said Beckett. If you pitch better then you dont need to worry about any of that stuff.
Theyre well-deserved in another horrendous loss with Beckett now having allowed 14 hits and 14 runs along with five home runs in each of his last two games after returning from his back spasm-shortened start on Aug. 1.