Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

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Notes: Beckett overworked by Indians

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

CLEVELAND -- Compared to what the first three starters did in Texas over the weekend, Josh Beckett didn't pitch badly Tuesday night. But as Beckett was the first to acknowledge, it wasn't good enough, either.

Beckett allowed three runs over five innings and had only two hard-hit balls against him. But thanks to long innings and high pitch counts in the third, fourth and fifth, he was done after five at 106 pitches.

After needing just 24 pitches to get through the first two innings, Beckett threw 35 pitches in the third, 24 more in the fourth and 23 in the fifth. That totaled 106 after five.

"That's a lot of effort,'' said Terry Francona. "They made him work so hard the second time through the order. Give them some credit -- we talk about grinding out at-bats. They did a good job on that. They did it better than we did.''

"They grinded some good at-bats,'' agreed Beckett (0-1). "You've got to get ahead. That's when most of the hits occurred, when I wasn't ahead. I was getting behind and having to challenge different parts of the plate.

"Instead of commanding the at-bat, I felt like getting behind forced me to throw more pitches over the plate . . . You can't throw 105 pitches over five innings. You're not going to survive very long.''

Beckett's changeup was a plus pitch for most of the night and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia remarked that his curveball, which had been inconsistent throughout spring training, was much improved Tuesday night.

"In spring training, we had trouble throwing the curveball and getting the ball down,'' said Saltalamacchia. "Tonight, he was getting the ball down when he needed to. And on top of that, his fastball, when he wanted to throw the ball down, he threw it down there, which is a great sign because in spring training we were fighting that.

"I think he's trusting himself more and not worrying about mechanics as much as just getting the ball down and getting outs.''

Saltalamacchia, who was 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in the series in Texas, finally got his first hit of the season and it was well-timed: a two-out single in the third to score the first -- and as it turned out, only -- run of the night, scoring David Ortiz.

J.D. Drew, who had been on second, also tried to score but was gunned down at the plate by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

"I felt all right,'' Saltalamacchia said. "I'm getting there at the plate. But we've all got to jump and do something at the plate, myself included.''

In the sixth inning, Saltalamacchia didn't get a throw off as Cleveland first baseman Matt LaPorta utilized a delayed steal to swipe second with one out, but it wasn't an example of Saltalamacchia battling some of the well-documented issues he dealt with last year.

Shortstop Marco Scutaro was a bit late getting to cover the second-base bag and Saltalamacchia didn't want to throw down and risk throwing the ball into center field.

Said Francona: "We were a little late. They delayed and we were a little late. It's one of those things where Scoot was probably going to be there in time, but it's hard to throw to an unoccupied base. I thought Salty actually bounced up pretty good ready to throw.''

The Indians stole a total of three bases. In the third, Michael Brantley stole second and Saltalamacchia's throw bounced past Scutaro for a throwing error as Brantley moved up to third.

Immediately after, Asdrubal Cabrera walked and also stole second, but Saltalamacchia decided not to throw through, fearing that Branley might break for the plate.

Tuesday night saw the Indians use a shift against Adrian Gonzalez, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera swung over to the right side of the infield and third baseman Jack Hannahan moved over to where the shortstop would normally be positioned.

The shift paid off in the fourth inning for the Indians. Dustin Pedroia had singled to lead off the inning, but with the shift on, Gonzalez hit a groundball to the right side which was fielded by Cabrera, who began a 6-5-3 double-play.

Gonzalez is hardly a traditional pull hitter, but like J.D. Drew, when he hits the ball on the ground, it's often to the right of second base.

"Last year, it probably helped me more,'' said Gonzalez. "I hit more balls to the third-base side then the pull side. It's just something that managers feel comfortable doing for whatever reason.

"But I think it helps me rather hurts me. Obviously, not tonight when I'm chasing pitches out of the zone.''

If there was a bright spot on the night, it was the work of the Boston bullpen.

The trio of Matt Albers, Bobby Jenks and Daniel Bard combined to toss three scoreless innings and had eight strikeouts between them.

"Our guys did a good job,'' said Francona. "Our starters have been leaving pretty early, so we were trying to piece it together without using everybody. Jenks threw the ball great and it was nice to see Bard come back and put a zero up.''

Albers and Jenks each fanned three while walking a hitter. Bard, who was roughed up in the season opener for four runs, enjoyed a 1-2-3 eighth, recording two strikeouts and a ground ball.

Pedroia, who had two of the Red Sox' four hits, has hit safely in all four games to date . . . Scutaro was hitless in three at-bats and has yet to get a hit, going 0-for-11 in the three games he's started at shortstop . . . The announced attendance at Progressive Field was just 9,025. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the smallest crowd to watch the Red Sox in more than a decade. The last time they had a smaller crowd was July 5, 2000, when just 8,488 attended one of their games in the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."