Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

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Beckett comes up short in battle of aces, 5-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE It wasnt quite the pitchers dream match-up that some predicted at Safeco Field, and Josh Beckett almost didnt make it out of the first inning.

Despite the first frame breakdown, the Sox very nearly came back against the hapless Mariners before falling by a 5-4 score at Safeco Field in a fitting debut to the Wily Mo Pena Era in Seattle.

Ichiro Suzuki made a resounding opening statement by hammering the first Beckett offering of the evening and launching it into the right field seats for a quick 1-0 lead for the Mariners. The first onslaught didnt end until five runs had crossed the plate and Seattle rookie outfielder Casper Wells had also launched his own two-run homer off the Sox ace.

After the first inning stumble, Beckett managed to get through four more innings without allowing another run, fanning six Seattle batters along the way.

But the challenge had been set with Sox facing a steep uphill climb.

It looked like the Sox were going to go out with little more than a whimper as Hernandez was dealing through the first five innings, and Bostons only rally was snuffed out when Jacoby Ellsbury was called out in a hellacious home plate collision with Josh Bard. Ellsbury was off and running on a Dustin Pedroia fly ball to right field, but Ichiro threw a one-hop bullet to home plate that beat the Sox centerfielder. Ellsburys knee caught Bard in the face and it looked like the Ms catcher bobbled the ball from glove to his throwing hand and home plate ump Mark Ripperger originally called him out.

But the umps pulled together for a conference and called Ellsbury out on a play that ended the ending. The Sox finally did catch fire in the top of the sixth as two-run homers from Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia wobbled King Felix and pulled Boston within a single run. Hernandez managed to give the Ms seven innings, but surrendered an uncharacteristic nine hits and four runs to a Sox offense that continues to impress.

The Seattle bullpen managed to navigate through the final innings, and Brandon League wrapped up his 28th save of the season in the Ms win in the middle game of their three-game series.

Player of the Game: Ichiro Suzuki. Its been an uncharacteristically down year for the Seattle right fielder used to living well above the .300 batting average mark. On Saturday the Japanese import showed why hes still got it. Ichiro slammed Josh Becketts first pitch into the right field stands for a solo home run that sparked a five-run uprising against Beckett, and once again he was the sparkplug for the Ms offense. He also showed off his defensive prowess in the fourth inning when he nailed one of the speediest base runners in the Majors, Jacoby Ellsbury, attempting to score from third base on a sacrifice fly. Ichiros one hop toss from medium right field beat Ellsbury to the plate and saved a run that proved crucial in Bostons loss.

Honorable Mention: Jacoby Ellsbury appeared to jar the ball loose in the fourth inning in a mad collision with Josh Bard at home plate, and ignited the Boston offense with a two-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth inning. The shot was 10 rows deep in the right field bleachers as Ichiro attempted his Spiderman act climbing up the wall to potentially make a play on the scalded ball. With the home run, Ellsbury became the first 2020 player for the Red Sox since Nomar Garciaparra back during the 1997 baseball season.

The Goat: Josh Beckett managed to quiet things down after nailing the pooch in the first inning, but he needed to be better from the start against Felix Hernandez. Theres no excuse for one of baseballs best pitchers to very nearly get bounced from the first inning by the worst offensive team in baseball. It appears that both John Lackey and Beckett struggled without a book against the young Seattle hitters, but eight hits, five runs and only 99 pitches in five innings isnt good enough.

Turning Point: The Red Sox could have started their comeback rally early enough if things had broken correctly, but a perfect throw from Ichiro cut down Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate during the fourth inning rally. The home plate ump appeared confused and actually called Ellsbury safe immediately after the play, but was overruled after a conference between umpires. That drew the ire of Terry Francona as he was ejected from the game, and the run proved to be key in a one-run ballgame that ended in favor of Seattle. It took a perfect throw from Ichiro and a perfect hold from Josh Bard to cut Ellsbury down at the plate, and both players executed beautifully.

By the Numbers: 6 the number of Red Sox players in the 2020 club in franchise history among a group that includes Ellis Burks, Nomar Garciaparra and John Valentin. Jacoby Ellsbury joined them with a two-run bomb on Saturday night that marked his 20th home run this year. Ellsbury is still attempting to become the first Sox player with 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in a single season.

Quote of Note: I knew the throw had to be on the money for him to get me. When it was in the air I knew it was going to be close, and unfortunately that would have been the tying run looking at it now. Great play by Ichiro and a great play by Bard to hold onto it. Jacoby Ellsbury talking about the fourth inning play that saw him get cut down at the plate in a train-wreck collision with Josh Bard that proved to be the difference in the game.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Maybe Tim Tebow could be the eighth-inning guy? 

OK, OK. Maybe not. Still, the Red Sox will be among the “roughly half” of the MLB teams who will attend the former Heisman Trophy winner and Patriots’ 2013 training camp phenomenon’s baseball tryout on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tebow is 29 and hasn’t played organized baseball since he was a junior in high school. He was an All-State performer in Florida back then.

Based on his accuracy and mechanics throwing a football, maybe DH would suit Tebow better than the mound. 

 

 

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

New season, new pitcher, new persona: The evolution of Rick Porcello

BOSTON -- Just over a year ago, Rick Porcello made his return from the 15-day disabled list, and the righty's not only been a new pitcher, but a new person at times.

“Pretty Ricky” is still the mild-mannered, well-spoken pitcher off the field, but between the white lines the 27-year-old's unexpectedly shown a gritty side of late.

Part of his alter ego is his sweat-crowned cap that's helped him find a way into Red Sox Nation’s heart by indirectly paying homage to Trot Nixon, one of Boston’s most hard-nosed players in recent history.

“I don’t know how that happens,” Porcello said bewildered by his unsightly, yet lucky hat. “It’s disgusting. Trust me, I don’t even want to put it on.

“I wear the same hat throughout the course of the season if things are going well, and if they’re not I change it out.”

His hat is one of the more glaring changes to the 2016 version of Rick Porcello -- given the contradiction with his nickname. But what’s also come to surface with his Cy Young-caliber pitching is his toughness.

And we’re not talking about his ability to get out of jams -- although that’s been the case too. We’re talking about his frustration every time he gets pulled in the middle of an inning, and, even more so, chirping at opposing players -- like he did Chase Headley, giving some life to the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry that’s been in a lull the last few seasons.

“I’m not really sure why I did it [to Headley] and in Detroit,” Porcello said his recent change in behavior. “I don’t like to be vocal like that. I like to just try to go out there and do my job. That’s really it. I’m not a guy that screams at guys on the mound.

“But I think there are times, when, if you feel strongly about something that’s going on, then you need to speak up instead of just letting it continue. That’s all that was.”

If you haven’t heard Rick Porcello in the postgame interview following his starts, those reactions on the mound aren't something anyone would expect from him. He’s always one to take his time articulating his points in detail -- far from some of the shoot-from-the-hip players Boston’s had in the past.

“I don’t think that’s really indicative of my personality or anything like that,” the righty said on his changing mound presence. “I mean, when I’m between the lines, I’m definitely not trying to make friends with the other team. I’m trying to beat ‘em. That’s really all I care about, is us winning games. If I feel like they’re doing something to alter that -- and it’s not right -- then I’ll say something. But I don’t fell like I’m running around like a hothead just screaming at everybody.

“It’s a little bit different when you’re between the lines and you’re competing. We’re in a race right now. You’re emotions are going to be running high. Certain things at certain levels that you get to on the field you don’t get to in any other aspect in your life. Whether it’s the adrenaline or just the emotion that comes through, those sorts of things. I think a lot of guys when they’re competing and they get into that moment, they turn into a bit of different person or a different animal. That’s all that is.”

The Cy Young candidate also mentioned the recent outbursts were more situation-based, rather than results of playing both Boston’s greatest rival or his old team.

While it’s made his already impressive starts even more entertaining, Porcello doesn’t want his competitiveness to mistaken for disrespect towards the game or his opponents. But he intends to get the message across that he’s not only passionate about winning, but will speak up if he deems it necessary.

“It’s a fine line between being composed and when something goes down then you say what you need to say or you’re just running around like a hothead,” Porcello said. “I definitely don’t want to be the latter. But I’m passionate about what we’re doing and I’m passionate about our team and winning. Anything can happen when you’re out there and those things are at stake.”

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter @ngfriar