Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

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Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BRADENTON, Fla. Josh Beckett didnt leave the McKechnie Field mound Sunday afternoon feeling all warm and fuzzy.But there were plenty of things to like about the right-handers third start of spring training before it dropped into a vat of garbage in the fifth frame.Beckett is far removed from post-concussion symptoms and had cranked up enough arm strength to get on the mound for a fifth inning of work in the 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And he flashed enough stuff to fan five Bucs hitters in the process of stretching out his prized right arm.There were plenty of complaints from Beckett and righty reliever Scott Atchison about the disparity in size between the bullpen mound and the game mound. Beckett nearly stumbled after his first pitch of the game to center fielder Jose Tabata, and spent a good minute cleaning off his spikes in a fit of pique behind the mound.But lets focus on the results rather than the excuses when it comes to Becketts afternoon.Beckett had impressive crackle and velocity on his mid-90s heat, caught several Pirates hitters chasing with the curveball that eluded him far too often last season, and gave another piece of mounting proof he will have plenty to offer once the regular season begins.I was feeling good and can specifically point to the middle three innings, said Beckett. I threw some good changeups today. I threw some good breaking balls behind in the count. The strength is good. I think Ive pretty much caught up from the post-concussion syndrome, or whatever you call it.For now, though, Beckett was simply happy to get up and down for five innings of spring work in the books. He took full responsibility for the solo home runs allowed, and felt badly for the mess left for Atchison in the fifth that contributed mightily to the lopsided score. Beckett was holding a 3-1 lead going into the fifth, and allowed a home run, walk, double and hit by pitch before he headed to the showers.The good thing about spring training: Beckett can drown his sorrows in shrimp and crab legs in Fort Myers on Sunday night and then be ready to push deeper into an exhibition game his next time out.I was a little behind myself out there in the fifth inning, said Beckett, who said the fifth-inning mess wasnt due to fatigue of any kind. Its a shame that a whole outing gets ruined by one inning. But thats the case here. I felt like I ruined it because I pitched well in the middle three innings.The first inning was getting used to the mound here. Theres a big difference between the bullpen mound and the game mound, and at least I had those middle innings to get my work in. Obviously the arm build-up is good, but the results in the fifth inning werent.Beckett now has three walks and nine strikeouts in 9 23 innings of spring work for the Sox that screams out vintage Sox ace, but hes also sporting a 6.51 ERA over those three starts.He seemed to have made peace with his work before the regulars van left for Fort Myers while the minor-leaguers were still playing out the string, and catcher Jason Varitek likewise saw nothing but positives with the stuff and the spirit in his first moments catching him this year. I thought he did good until the fifth inning, said Varitek. It was the first time Ive gotten to see him on the field. Hes just like everybody else. Taking steps, gaining innings and really building himself up. He had kind of a mix with sinkers, four-seamers and curveballs. It was kind of all of the above.The one thing Beckett might leave the start a little fired up about: surrendering a sharp single to right-center off the bat of Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln in the third frame. For a combustible personality like Beckett, its just the kind of ammunition he will store and utilize as he continues through the at-times monotonous tenor of spring training before a pivotal season in his All-Star career.There were just enough flashes against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon to believe that hes well on his way.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

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Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

 

QUOTES:

"When he's gotten in trouble, it's been a combination of location and pitches up in the strike zone. That was the case tonight. . . It's more general location than one pitch that he's getting burned on. '' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz's poor start.

"No disrespect to (Jace) Peterson, but you're wanting to force contact. He hasn't hit for a high average.'' - Farrell on Buchholz walking No. 7 hitter Peterson three times.

"When do you walk guys, you do your best to try to minimize the damage and I didn't do a good enough job of that.'' - Buchholz, who saw Peterson come around to score twice after his three walks.

"It's frustrating when you can't put your finger on what you need to do it, and when you need to do it and why. All I can do right now is learn from it and get better in these next couple of days.'' - Buchholz.

"I didn't hear anything. The play was right in front of me, so I couldn't see him say anything. I just assumed I was out.'' - Xander Bogaerts, who was ruled safe at second on a force play by umpire Joe West, but believing he was out, came off the bag and was tagged out in the first inning.

 

NOTES

* Clay Buchholz has allowed five earned runs in four of his five starts this season.

* Heath Hembree pitched multiple innings for the fourth time this season and remains unscored upon in them.

* Over the last eight games, Dustin Pedroia is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with nine extra-base hits.

* All three of Chris Young's hit off lefthanded pitchers this season have been doubles.

* Hanley Ramirez (three hits, two RBI) has driven in a run in each of his last four games and six of his last seven.

* The Sox have scored in the first inning in eight of the last nine games.

 

STARS:

1) Nick Markakis

The Braves right fielder had a four hit night and knocked in three runs.

2) Jhoulys Chacin

Atlanta's starter wasn't overpowering, but he limited the Sox to two runs over five-plus innings and earned the victory.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez broke out a bit at the plate with three hits, while knocking in the first two Red Sox runs.

 

First impressions: Another tough outing for Buchholz

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First impressions: Another tough outing for Buchholz

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves

 

Another night, another less-than-satisfactory start for Clay Buchholz. Since the end of their last homestand, the Red Sox are 6-2. Both of those losses were hung on Buchholz.

Buchholz wasn't horrendous - he did manage to pitch into the seventh inning and five runs in 6 1/3 isn't a shellacking.

But five runs to this Braves lineup is nothing to shout about, either, and Buchholz made matters worse by walking the No. 7 hitter -- Jace Peterson, who came into the game with a .205 average -- three times. Twice, Peterson came around to score.

In fact, the bottom third of the order was 3-for-7 with three walks.

 

Hanley Ramirez showed some progress at the plate.

Before the game, John Farrell noted that Ramirez had been expanding the zone of late, and working to correct the issue with hitting instructors Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez.

Something apparently clicked, as Ramirez was 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats with two RBI.

The one thing that's been lacking for Ramirez: power. He came into the game with just one homer and a paltry .373 slugging percentage.

 

It wasn't much of a night for former Red Sox players.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4, and for the second straight night, failed to catch a routine foul pop-up.

Meanwhile, reliever Alexi Ogando came in for the seventh inning and promptly allowed a leadoff single and a walk to the first two hitters he faced before recording two more outs and getting lifted for lefty Hunter Cervenka.

 

Turnabout is fair play for Chris Young.

Young got the start in left field over Brock Holt, despite the fact that Atlanta started a righthander (Jhoulys Chacin).

Young was 1-for-3 with a double, though that one hit came off lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty.

Then, in the eighth inning with righthander Jim Johnson on the mound for the Braves, John Farrell sent Holt up to pinch-hit for Young.

That marked the first time that Holt hit for Young; to the great consternation of many, Young had been sent up to hit for Holt three times in the first week or so of the season.

By the way: Holt grounded out to end the inning.