Notes: Beckett solid, but not good enough

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Notes: Beckett solid, but not good enough

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT The Red Sox' five-game winning streak ended when they ran into a Justin Verlander Sunday night in the finale of their seven-game road trip.

"Long day Saturday, long day Sunday today for guys, said Jason Varitek. We just ran into a little buzzsaw."

The buzzsaws name on Sunday was Verlander. But for much of the season, Josh Beckett has been that buzzsaw for the Red Sox, carving up opponents.

Sunday against the Tigers, he went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a season-high five walk, with five strikeouts. His outing was good, but against Verlander, it needed to be better than good.

Beckett gave up as many runs in the first inning, two, as he has in his last five outings combined, spanning 30 innings. After the first, he allowed just two runners Danny Worth after a second-inning walk, and Victor Martinez after a third-inning single to advance as far as second base.

But by that time, Verlander had all the cushion he would need.

"You just can't stake that guy the lead like that," said Beckett. "If it's one run, it's one thing. He's tough enough without you staking him to a couple runs."

Beckett faced seven batters in the first inning, throwing 26 pitches. He opened the game by striking out Austin Jackson before allowing the next four batters to reach base. Andy Dirks walked and scored on Brennan Boeschs double to right. Boesch then scored on Miguel Cabreras single to right. It was Cabreras first career hit off Beckett. Victor Martinez, who went 3-for-3 against Beckett, singled to right before Beckett could retire Don Kelly on a fly ball to Carl Crawford in left and Alex Avila on a called strike, on a curveball.

He was up with some pitches, manager Terry Francona said. "To his credit, after that, he really settled down and battled. I thought part of the night he was rushing a little bit and getting under some pitches. But he never gave in and he never gave up any more runs. He gave us a chance. Verlander had a lot to say about the outcome tonight."

Verlander threw a career-high 132 pitches. His final pitch, walking Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs in the eighth, was a 100-mph fastball.

He had everything -- velocity, breaking ball, changeup," Francona said. "He got up in the pitch count and he started throwing harder. Obviously, he's earned their trust, as he should. He's one of the best pitchers in the league."

On most nights, against most pitchers, Beckett might have come away with the win. Matched up with a buzzsaw, though, he was cut down.

"He's impressive, Beckett said. He's good.

Jason Varitek recorded his 300th career double in the sixth inning. He is the sixth catcher in AL history with at least 150 homers and 300 doubles.

Rich Hill threw a perfect seventh inning, striking out Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks. He has now thrown 12 scoreless innings over his 14 appearances since his first appearance with the Sox on Sept. 14, 2010. The 14 scoreless outings are the most to start a Sox career since at least 1919, passing the previous mark of 13 (15.0 IP) by Ramon Ramirez in 2009. Hills 12 scoreless innings are also the most to start a career with the Sox since Ramirez in 2009.

In his last four starts against the Red Sox, spanning 30 23 innings, Verlander has allowed just six earned runs, for a 1.76 ERA.

Miguel Cabreras first-inning single was his first career hit off Beckett.

The Sox were shutout for the fifth time this season.

The game was delayed at the start for 50 minutes because of rain.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”