Wheels come off for Beckett

726434.jpg

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.''

Thomas (hip) feeling better, but still no determination on surgery

Thomas (hip) feeling better, but still no determination on surgery

BOSTON –  Brad Stevens said Isaiah Thomas (hip) is feeling better, but no decision has been made on whether the two-time All-Star will have surgery.

“He’s doing some rehab work out there with his people in Seattle,” Stevens told a pool reporter during Thursday night’s NBA draft. “He’s getting ready to host his Zeke-end (basketball tournament), which is a big deal for him.”

Thomas, who led all players in the Eastern Conference with a 28.9 points per game average, suffered a right hip injury in Boston’s second-round series against Washington but continued to play through it.

However, the injury only worsened and ultimately led to him being unable to return in the second half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against Cleveland which ended in five games.

Stevens said no decision has made yet as to whether Thomas will require surgery.

“He has his follow-up appointment here in a couple of weeks to determine next course of action,” Stevens said. “And nothing’s determined after that. He hasn’t done a lot, physically, and will be off his feet until that next appointment, or won’t be doing any basketball.”