Beckett continues to dazzle despite no decisions

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Beckett continues to dazzle despite no decisions

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON Josh Beckett has dominated New York this season.

Entering Sunday nights series finale against the Yankees at Fenway Park, he was 3-0 with a miniscule 0.86 ERA well below his season ERA of and already low 2.20 -- in three starts against them, allowing just two earned runs over 21 innings.

With first place in the American League East up for grabs -- along with the series win and a season series clincher -- Beckett was just the pitcher the Red Sox wanted on the mound.But Beckett had been out of the game for four innings by the time the Sox got their eighth walk-off win of the season in the 10th inning, on Josh Reddicks one-out single to score pinch-runner Darnell McDonald, for a 3-2 win.

Beckett went six innings, giving up one run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The lone run he allowed was to No. 9 hitter Eduardo Nunez, a two-out home run into the base of the light tower above the Green Monster in the fifth inning.

Really good, manager Terry Francona said of Beckett's outing. Left a fastball up too much on the plate to Nunez. Other than that, thats kind of what weve come to expect every five or six days. He gives you a chance to win and doesnt give up a lot of runs.

Hes got a low-2 ERA all year and hes been pretty good. Every five or six days hes been pretty consistent all year. But to pitch like that against them is really something.

Beckett, who threw 101 pitches, 60 for strikes, would have preferred to go deeper in the game.

It was a battle, no doubt about it, Beckett said. Thats a tough team to have one of those days against but the location wasnt real crisp and got away with a few pitches. Saved myself with some off-speed pitches.

Its nice to give your team a few more innings than that, especially against these guys. Its tough enough. You want to minimize the amount of outs that your bullpen has to get but it is what it is and we won. It was a good win.

Nunezs home run, his fourth of the season, came in just his second plate appearance against Becket, after grounding out in the third.

A cutter right down the middle, Beckett said of the pitch to Nunez.

He threw the ball well, said catcher Jason Varitek. He made half of a mistake to Nunez, that really wasnt. A pretty good job of hitting. It might have been up a tiny bit. He had to make some pitches. He had to work hard, which you have to do with that lineup.

Beckett left with the score tied, 1-1. His teammates had chances to put multiple runs up against Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia, but were unable to do so. In the second inning, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs, but could scratch out just one run. They had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth but came away empty-handed. In the sixth, facing Boone Logan and Cory Wade, with the bases loaded and two outs the Sox again failed to do so. Saving their best for the 10th inning, with the win going to Daniel Bard (2-5, 2.36 ERA).

It was the 12th time this season Beckett has held opponents to 1 run or no runs, behind only Jered Weavers 15 such outings in the AL this season.

But It was a team-high ninth time in 22 starts this season Beckett came away with a no-decision, matching his single-season career-highs in 2009 and 2010. In seven of those games, the Sox went on to win. In those seven games he has allowed two or fewer runs. In three of his no-decisions, he has held opponents scoreless.

Sundays outing against the Yankees was Becketts team-leading 17th quality start. It was the third time this season he has held the Yankees to 1 or no runs while going at least six innings. Since 1975, the only other Sox pitcher to pitch three such outings against the Yankees was Mike Boddicker in 1990.

Despite lowering his ERA to 2.17, second-best in the AL, he was unable to crack the double-digit mark in wins for the third straight start, his record on hold at 9-4.

After giving up just one run in six innings to the Yankees on Sunday night at Fenway Park, Becketts ERA against the Bombers this season actually went up from 0.86 entering the game to 1.00 while his overall ERA went down, to 2.17. It is the sixth-lowest ERA for Sox starter through 113 games since 1919.

Its definitely something that Im proud of that just because of how good a lineup that is, Beckett said of his performance against the Yankees this season. Even missing Alex Rodriguez, theyve got a few other guys that have stepped up since hes been gone. Its a tough lineup and you have to make pitches. You can't just make pitches with your fastball because they're a really good fastball-hitting team.

Beckett left with the score tied, 1-1. His teammates had chances to put multiple runs up against Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia, but were unable to do so. In the second inning, the Sox loaded the bases with no outs, but could scratch out just one run. They had runners on first and second with two outs in the fourth but came away empty-handed. In the sixth, facing Boone Logan and Cory Wade, with the bases loaded and two outs and with a chance to push a run across, putting Beckett in position for a potential win the Sox again failed to do so.

Beckett left the game after that, with his ninth no-decision of the season. For now, though, his teammates cant worry about that.

I think its about winning games, Varitek said. We cant help the fact of when we score runs and when we dont. And Im sure theres probably going to be a time where we put up a 15 spot for him when hes going to give up 8. So itll even out. It usually does.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

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Red Sox’ quotes, notes and stars from 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notes, quotes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Rays:

QUOTES:

* "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully, the tests come back clean.'' -Andrew Benintendi, on the uncertainty surrounding his knee injury.

* "Sometimes, I like that, sometimes I don't because I'd kind of take a couple of quick outs in place of those to get a couple of more innings out there.'' -Drew Pomeranz on his career high 11 strikeouts.

* "That's probably the spot that looms the largest. Jackie's become more aggressive early in the count, but at the same time, that aggressiveness can work against you.'' -Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr. swinging at the first pitch following a walk with the bases loaded.

NOTES:

* Drew Pomeranz recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts

 * Since moving to the leadoff spot, Dustin Pedroia has a slash line of .397/.418/.460 in 16 games.

* Pomeranz has yielded two runs or fewer in five consecutive starts.

* On the just-completed road trip, the Red Sox led in all but one game.

* Thursday's loss was the fourth this season in which the Sox allowed two runs or fewer.

 * The past 18 Red Sox losses have come by a combined 37 runs.

* Until Thursday, the Red Sox had won 20 of their past 31 day games.

* The bottom third of the makeshift Red Sox lineup combined to go 2-for-12.

* The Sox missed out on a chance to have an eight-win road trip, which would have been their first since 2011.

STARS:

1) Jake Odorizzi

The Rays started, facing a depleted Red Sox lineup, limited the Sox to a single run over seven innings, allowing just five hits and getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.

2) Mikie Mahtook

Mahtook was 0-for-34 when facing Drew Pomeranz in the seventh inning, but that didn't stop him from doubling home Steven Souza Jr with what proved to be the winning run.

3) Dustin Pedroia

The Sox couldn't generate much of anything at all offensively, but don't blame Pedroia. The leadoff hitter had three hits and a walk and was on base four times for the Sox.

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

Benintendi's MRI inconclusive; will undergo more tests Friday in Boston

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Andrew Benintendi saga will continue for at least one more day, as an MRI taken here Thursday morning was, in the words of John Farrell, "inconclusive" and the rookie left fielder will undergo more tests Friday in Boston.

"Our doctors want to get him back to a full exam with (team orthopedist) Dr. [Peter] Asnis," Farrell said after the 2-1 loss to the Rays, which concluded the team's 11-game road trip. "Hopefully, when I speak to you all [Friday] afternoon (at Fenway Park, prior to the team's game against Royals), there will be a little more information on this."

Farrell said Friday's tests "will include some other imaging".

The Sox placed Benintendi on the 15-day disabled list after he injured his left night while running the bases Wednesday night. 

"We're going to do some more tests tomorrow and take it day-by-day," he said. "There's not much I can do about it now. It's kind of a waiting game and hopefully the tests come back clean.''
 
Benintendi found one sliver of hope:
 
"The more I walk on it, the better it feels. I'm going to stay as positive as I can.'' 

First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

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First impressions of Red Sox’ 2-1 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First Impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field:

 

* When the guy who was 0-for-34 produces the go-ahead RBI, it's probably not your day.

The Red Sox and Rays were tied 1-1 in the seventh when Steven Souza Jr. singled to lead off the inning. That brought Mikie Mahtook, hitless in his last 34 at-bats to the plate.

Naturally, Mahtook roped a line-drive double to left field, scoring Souza all the way from first base. It was that kind of day for the Red Sox, who were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five baserunners.

For a team that still leads the majors in runs scored, the Red Sox have shown an uncanny ability to go cold at the plate.

On Thursday afternoon, that happened again, while the most unlikely hero for Tampa Bay came through in an improbable spot.

 

* The Red Sox' struggles with the bases loaded is almost comical.

It happened again.

In the sixth inning, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no out. Mookie Betts then hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring one run. Hanley Ramirez then walked, re-loading the bases, this time with one out.

But Jackie Bradley Jr. then swung at the first pitch and hit into an inning-ending, rally-killing 4-6-3 double play.

In two plate appearances with the bases loaded, the Sox failed to get a hit.

The Sox are hitting .216 with the bases loaded (24-for-111), ranking them 14th in the American League. Only Seattle and Detroit have had more bases-loaded opportunities, and yet the Red Sox rank in the second half in runs scored in such situations.

 

* Drew Pomeranz is showing no signs of innings fatigue

True, Pomeranz failed to provide a shutdown inning in the sixth after the Red Sox had gotten him a run in the top of the inning.

Still, Pomeranz pitched into the seventh and allowed just two runs while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

In his past five starts, he's compiled a 2.37 ERA, and both the power to his fastball and the sharpness to his curve offer no evidence that he's hit any sort of wall despite already establishing a career high at the major league level with five weeks remaining in the season.