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

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

With trade rumors finally over, Sale shifts attention to dominating in Boston

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Chris Sale had been the subject of so many trade rumors for the past year that he admitted feeling somewhat like "the monkey in the middle.”

On Tuesday, the rumors became reality when Sale learned he was being shipped to the Red Sox in exchange for a package of four prospects.
    
It meant leaving the Chicago White Sox, the only organization he'd known after being drafted 13th overall by Chicago in 2010. Leaving, he said, is "bittersweet.''
     
Now, he can finally move forward.
     
"Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice,” said Sale Wednesday morning in a conference call with reporters.

Sale had been linked in trade talks to many clubs, most notably the Washington Nationals, who seemed poised to obtain him as recently as Monday night.

Instead, Sale has changed his Sox from White to Red.

"I'm excited,” he said. "You're talking about one of the greatest franchises ever. I'm excited as anybody. I don't know how you couldn't be. I've always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. (My wife and I) both really like the city and (Fenway Park) is a very special place.”
     
It helps that Sale lives in Naples, Fla., just 20 or so miles from Fort Myers, the Red Sox' spring training base. Sale played his college ball at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
     
"Being able to stay in our house a couple of (more) months,” gushed Sale, “it couldn't have worked out better personally or professionally for us.”
     
Sale joins a rotation with two Cy Young Award winners (David Price and reigning winner Rick Porcello), a talented core of mostly younger position players and an improved bullpen.

"There's no reason not to be excited right now,” said Sale. "You look at the talent on this team as a whole... you can't ask for much more.”

Sale was in contact with Price Tuesday, who was the first Red Sox player to reach out. He also spoke with some mutual friends of Porcello.

That three-headed monster will carry the rotation, and the internal competition could lift them all to new heights.
     
"The good thing in all of this,'' Sale said, "is that I can definitely see a competition (with) all of us pushing each others, trying to be better. No matter who's pitching on a (given) night, we have as good or better chance the next night. That relieves some of the pressure that might build on some guys (who feel the need to carry the team every start).”

But Sale isn't the least bit interested in being known as the ace of the talented trio.

"I don’t think that matters,” he said. "When you have a group of guys who come together and fight for the same purpose, nothing else really matters. We play for a trophy, not a tag.”

Sale predicted he would be able to transition from Chicago to Boston without much effort, and didn't seem overwhelmed by moving to a market where media coverage and fan interest will result in more scrutiny.

"It's fine, it's a part of it, it's reality,” he said. "I'm not a big media guy. I'm not on Twitter. I'm really focused on the in-between-the-lines stuff. That's what I love, playing the game of baseball. Everything else will shake out.”

After playing before small crowds and in the shadow of the  Cubs in Chicago, Sale is ready to pitch before sellout crowds at Fenway.

"I'm a firm believer that energy can be created in ballparks,” he said. "I don't think there’s any question about it. When you have a packed house and everyone's on their feet in the eighth inning, that gives every player a jolt.”