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.''