Wheels come off for Beckett

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Wheels come off for Beckett

DETROIT -- Josh Beckett didn't make any excuses about his thumb after tying a career-high by allowing five homers Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Beckett didn't make many pitches while on the mound, either. He was shelled for seven runs in just 4 23 innings as the Sox suffered a 10-0 blowout by the Detroit Tigers.

"Too many pitches in the middle of the plate,'' said Beckett succinctly after his start.

Beckett quickly dispelled any notion that his ailing right thumb, which concerned him enough to visit with two specialists in the days leading up to Opening Day, might have been an issue.

And as if to demonstrate that the poor outing wasn't the result of one particular pitch, Beckett slowly ticked off the pitches that were hit out by Prince Fielder (two), Miguel Cabrera (two) and Alex Avila (one).

"One changeup...cutter...two sinkers...and a fastball,'' he said, recounting the offending pitches. "They were all in the middle of the plate. All the hard stuff was in the middle of the plate.

"You can't throw pitches down the middle of the plate to these guys. It's a good team, a good lineup. You can't throw balls down the middle of the plate to most big league hitters, but especially these guys.''

"It wasn't the results we were looking for from Josh,'' said Bobby Valentine. "But the good news is he felt good. He'll just build on that, somehow. He thought it was just (the result) of location -- too much of the plate with a lot of pitches.''

Through three innings, Beckett had managed to limit the damage after allowing a two-run smash to Cabrera in the first.

But then Fielder hit one to lead off the fourth and, following an infield single, Avila hit a two-run shot. In the fifth, it completely unraveled when Cabrera and Fielder went back-to-back for the first time since becoming teammates.

"They're really good hitters,'' allowed Valentine of the two sluggers, "but I think Josh can get them out. I believe in Josh -- when he's making his pitches. He didn't think he was making his pitches today.''

Saturday represented only the third time in the regular season that Beckett was paired with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, having thrown almost exclusively to the now-retired Jason Varitek for most of his Red Sox career.

But Saltalamacchia insisted that the two felt comfortable working together after some spring training outings.

"I felt really, really comfortable with him,'' said Saltalamacchia. "Especially catching him in the spring, we really got on the same page. We (figured) out what he likes to do in certain counts, what he likes to do when a guy swings at (a certain) pitch. So we really are on the same page.''

Earlier in the week, Beckett stresssed that his success would be determined not by how his thumb felt, but rather, how well he executed his pitches.

As the box score -- and the naked eye -- proved Saturday, he didn't do that nearly well enough to succeed in his first outing of 2012.

"It was just one of those days,'' concluded Saltalamacchia. "We threw everything and it just seemed like they couldn't miss. They were staying in on the (pitches) inside and the ones away they were going with it and driving them out of the park.''

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

PFT: Belichick can still diagram his dad’s Navy plays from 1959

CBS interviewed Patriots coach Bill Belichick and 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino from Navy as part of its Army-Navy Game coverage Saturday.

Belichick's father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy when Bellino played there, and little Bill, then 7, took it all in. So much so, that 57 years later, Belichick can still diagram the 27 F Trap play that his dad used to drew up in the 1959 season for Bellino.

More from NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk here.