Beckett's blue after a rare rough outing

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Beckett's blue after a rare rough outing

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE Its been a pretty mellow season for Josh Beckett.

Sure, the Red Sox offense hasnt done much to provide him with offensive support and it seems like hes been stuck on nine wins for an eternity.

But if things havent been letter-perfect for the gun-slinging righty, theyve been pretty close. He's third in the American League with a 2.40 ERA and tied for second with a 0.97 WHIP. He's allowed a miniscule 105 hits in 150 innings pitched for a .198 batting average against. He even made the All-Star team. Everything aside from the fickle win-loss total -- which is more an indication that the Red Sox haven't scored runs for him rather than any statement about his pitching -- has been among the best of his career as he's fully bounced back from last year's tumultuous 6-6, 5.78 campaign. He's been one of the biggest factors in the Red Sox' first-place standing.

Because of all that, Beckett hasnt been the four-letter-word-dropping fiend with a short fuse and colorful vocabulary that hes been during tough times in his Boston career. Hes been much more the seasoned 31-year-old veteran who's seen it all and done even more.

But Saturday nights first-inning freefall brought back the R-rated Beckett everybody knows so well.

The big righty had his worst start of the season, giving up five runs and a pair of homers before hed even recorded the first three outs of the game. He was able to lock things down after that, but the Sox couldn't make it all the way back and dropped a 5-4 decision that lowered Beckett's record to 9-5.

Beckett, who suffered his first career loss in Seattle after eight starts, hadnt allowed more than seven hits in a game this season. But the powder-puff Mariners offense pounded out nine hits against the hurlers mediocre stuff in five innings of fitful work.

The five runs allowed in Saturday nights first inning by Beckett equaled the total number of runs he'd allowed in the first inning all season. That means a couple of different things: Beckett has been consistently awesome in the first inning of his starts this season, and he was the opposite of awesome against a woefully inadequate Seattle offense.

That was a tough first inning, said Terry Francona. He didnt miss many bats.

Ichiro Suzuki rocked the first Beckett fastball of the night into the right-field stands for a solo home run, and the Sox righty continued to miss high with just about everything as the anticipated duel between himself and Seattle ace Felix Hernandez never materialized.

Beckett prides himself on being able to work deep into ballgames and saving the bullpen, but he could only fight through five innings and 99 pitches. He's finished with five innings or less only four times in 23 starts this season.

And when it was over, his reaction was vintage Beckett . . . from 2010, that is.

I left pitches up, they got it, said Beckett, who then repeated the same no-frills assessment. Left pitches up, they got hit.

Its pretty expletive simple. Its tough whenever youre facing a guy like Hernandez. That expletive game could have been over before the second inning. If you leave expletive balls right down the middle, then, expletive, I could have gone up there and hit. It was tough to make adjustments early on.

The good news: Beckett's next start will come against the Kansas City Royals, another team thats not quite ready for prime time, and he should be properly motivated to get everything down in the zone.

If not, then get ready for another episode of Beckett raw, uncut and uncensored, a show thats been happily stored on the shelf all summer.

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

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.