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.''

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.