Beckett helps Red Sox edge Indians, 4-2

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Beckett helps Red Sox edge Indians, 4-2

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND As well as Josh Beckett pitched in Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS (eight innings of nasty, one run, 11 strikeouts, five hits in a 7-1 win), its hard to believe he entered Tuesdays game looking for his first career regular season win in Cleveland.

But thats what he got as the Red Sox beat the Indians, 4-2, for the first time this season. Beckett went 6 23 innings, allowing one run on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts. Beckett is now 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 10 starts this season.

Through six innings Beckett and Indians starter Fausto Carmona nearly matched each other. But, leading, 2-1, going into the seventh, Sox batters were able to open a lead on Carmona, who had limited them to two runs on just two hits before the frame.

David Ortiz lead off the seventh with a double to center, scoring on Jason Varitek's one-out home run to right. It was Variteks first home run since May 30, 2010.

The Sox took advantage of two free passes by Carmona in the third. Carl Crawford led off the inning, getting hit by a Carmona 92-mph sinker. He stole second, his seventh steal of the season, and went to third on Drew Suttons groundout to Orlando Cabrera at second. After a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowries sacrifice fly scored Crawford for the Sox first run. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Ellsbury stole second, his 16th stolen base of the season. Gonzalezs double to right scored Ellsbury, extending Gonzalez league lead in RBI to 42.

The Indians lone run off Beckett came in the second inning. Travis Buck led off with an infield single and went to second when Beckett hit Orlando Cabrera with a curveball. After striking out Matt LaPorta (looking) and Jack Hannahan (swinging), Beckett allowed a single to center by Ezequiel Carrera, scoring Buck. It was just the second run he had allowed in his last five starts.

The Indians added a run in the ninth, on Travis Bucks one-out solo home run. It was the first home run Jonathan Papelbon has allowed this season. But Papelbon got Orlando Cabrera to foul out to J.D. Drew and Matt LaPorta on a long fly out to Crawford in left. Papelbon earned his ninth save.

It was Becketts second win in his last seven starts, going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in that stretch.

Carmona took the loss, going eight innings, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk, matching a season high with seven strikeouts. He falls to 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Josh Beckett
Beckett continues to string together impressive outings, improving to 4-1 with a league-leading 1.69 ERA in 10 starts. His ERA trails only Floridas Josh Johnson, at 1.64. Beckett has not lost since his first outing of the season April 5 in Cleveland. Since then he is 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in nine starts. The Sox are 7-2 in those games. In his last five starts he is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA.

He earned his first career regular season win in Cleveland, improving to 4-5 against them overall.

Beckett has seven quality starts in his 10 outings this season.

"Honestly, it starts with the quality start, said catcher Jason Varitek. We had a different mix of of pitches -- more changeups and cutters -- he didn't have a feel for his curveball. He had a couple of different times (when it was working), but it wasn't as good as he's had it. Lost a little feel for it.

It still comes down to lead with his fastball, his location. He threw quality locations -- set up the slider, cutter and sinker. Those things are huge when you do that and change speeds. He's had to do it different ways. He had to battle his neck the last time leaving after six innings with a stiff neck. Today was more of a finesse day rather than a power day. It should make him feel good because he can pitch in different ways.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jason Varitek
Varitek went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. His home run, to right field, scored David Ortiz and was the difference in the Sox 4-2 win. It was his first homer since May 30, 2010, against Kansas City, a span of 117 at-bats.

Varitek has a five-game hit streak, batting .353 (6-for-17). It is his longest streak since hitting safely in the same number from Aug. 16 22, 2008.

Varitek, though, is satisfied that hes been having quality at-bats.

"I dont know how long its been since last hitting a home run, Varitek said. It was nice...the timing of it. I've had good quality at-bats; whether I hit a home run or not I don't know. I've been having some good at-bats. I couldn't have started any worse. I was 1-for-40 and after that I started having competitive at-bats and not necessarily the results.

He also threw out two would-be base stealers. In the third inning he cut down Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal second, to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Varitek caught Travis Buck attempting to steal second. It was the first time Varitek has thrown out two attempted base stealers in a game since catching Seattles Chone Figgins twice on Sept. 14, 2010.

His two RBI gives him 728 for his career, moving him past Mike Greenwell for sole possession of 13th on the Sox all-time list.

Varitek contributes by making Beckett feel comfortable as well. Beckett has not lost a start when Varitek has been behind the plate for him this season.
THE GOAT: Fausto Carmona
Awfully tough call on this one for a pitcher who performed so well through six innings two runs on two hits. But his seventh inning cost him the game, giving up two runs on two hits.

THE TURNING POINT
With the Sox holding a slim one-run lead in the seventh inning, David Ortiz led off with a double to center field. After J.D. Drew grounded out, moving Ortiz to third. Varitek hit Carmonas first pitch, a 92-mph sinker, into the right field bleachers, his first home run of the season, putting the Sox ahead 4-1. The extra runs would prove valuable when Jonathan Papelbon gave up a one-out ninth-inning homer to Travis Buck.
STAT OF THE DAY: .667
The Sox are 15-7, a .682 winning percentage in May, best in the American League, and 26-22 overall. After starting the season 2-10, they are 24-12 since, a .667 winning percentage. If they were to maintain that pace for the rest of the season -- no, not easy -- they would go 76-38 the rest of the way, finishing the season at 102-60.
QUOTE OF NOTE
I think I won here in the playoffs, pretty big game. October wins are bigger anyway.

--Josh Beckett on his first career regular season win in Cleveland, improving to 1-3, 5.02 ERA in four starts.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.