Wheels come off for Beckett

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Wheels come off for Beckett

DETROIT -- Josh Beckett didn't make any excuses about his thumb after tying a career-high by allowing five homers Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Beckett didn't make many pitches while on the mound, either. He was shelled for seven runs in just 4 23 innings as the Sox suffered a 10-0 blowout by the Detroit Tigers.

"Too many pitches in the middle of the plate,'' said Beckett succinctly after his start.

Beckett quickly dispelled any notion that his ailing right thumb, which concerned him enough to visit with two specialists in the days leading up to Opening Day, might have been an issue.

And as if to demonstrate that the poor outing wasn't the result of one particular pitch, Beckett slowly ticked off the pitches that were hit out by Prince Fielder (two), Miguel Cabrera (two) and Alex Avila (one).

"One changeup...cutter...two sinkers...and a fastball,'' he said, recounting the offending pitches. "They were all in the middle of the plate. All the hard stuff was in the middle of the plate.

"You can't throw pitches down the middle of the plate to these guys. It's a good team, a good lineup. You can't throw balls down the middle of the plate to most big league hitters, but especially these guys.''

"It wasn't the results we were looking for from Josh,'' said Bobby Valentine. "But the good news is he felt good. He'll just build on that, somehow. He thought it was just (the result) of location -- too much of the plate with a lot of pitches.''

Through three innings, Beckett had managed to limit the damage after allowing a two-run smash to Cabrera in the first.

But then Fielder hit one to lead off the fourth and, following an infield single, Avila hit a two-run shot. In the fifth, it completely unraveled when Cabrera and Fielder went back-to-back for the first time since becoming teammates.

"They're really good hitters,'' allowed Valentine of the two sluggers, "but I think Josh can get them out. I believe in Josh -- when he's making his pitches. He didn't think he was making his pitches today.''

Saturday represented only the third time in the regular season that Beckett was paired with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, having thrown almost exclusively to the now-retired Jason Varitek for most of his Red Sox career.

But Saltalamacchia insisted that the two felt comfortable working together after some spring training outings.

"I felt really, really comfortable with him,'' said Saltalamacchia. "Especially catching him in the spring, we really got on the same page. We (figured) out what he likes to do in certain counts, what he likes to do when a guy swings at (a certain) pitch. So we really are on the same page.''

Earlier in the week, Beckett stresssed that his success would be determined not by how his thumb felt, but rather, how well he executed his pitches.

As the box score -- and the naked eye -- proved Saturday, he didn't do that nearly well enough to succeed in his first outing of 2012.

"It was just one of those days,'' concluded Saltalamacchia. "We threw everything and it just seemed like they couldn't miss. They were staying in on the (pitches) inside and the ones away they were going with it and driving them out of the park.''

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.

The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.

ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.

The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.

Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.