Another long post for exactly the same reason. This is fantastic.
Beckett may have been a little inefficient, but his outing was golden. He may have needed 110 pitches to complete six innings, but he threw sixty-seven of them for strikes and allowed only one run on only four hit while walking two and striking out four. That run was the result of a solo shot with two out in the fourth on a cutter. He began the at-bat with a four-seam, then went to a cuveball, and then threw five straight four-seams before going to a cutter that evidently didn’t do its job. Four of his pitches, both fastballs and the cutter and curveball, were thrown for strikes about sixty percent of the time. His changeup was a strike about sixty-seven percent of the time. All in all, he pitched swimmingly.
He even helped his own cause by corralling a hard-hit ball off the bat of Ian Kinsler, which would have been headed for his head if he hadn’t. Every time you see a ball hit that hard headed for anyone’s head, you pack a whole lot of worries into that few seconds between the hit and the catch. Beckett did catch it. Somehow he got his glove up there and caught it for the out and, more importantly, for his own health and personal safety. I have no idea how he caught that. I don’t think he was even trying to catch it; at that point, I think he got the glove up there to protect himself from the ball, and it just so happened that the position was exactly right and the ball found its way in there. The view behind Beckett looked like he didn’t catch it at all; it looked like his glove was going to his face as if he were hurt, so you expected to see the ball come out the other side. When the ball was nowhere in sight, Red Sox Nation sighed in relief as one.
So did Morales after the handoff for the seventh. Albers gave up a run in the eighth via small ball. Then Paps took care of the ninth in a decidedly non-save situation.
It’s almost like the team we saw batter Texas in the second and third games of this series is a completely different team than the one that was shut out in the opener; in a way, due to returns from injuries and the return of Gonzalez’s power stroke, it was. For once, the lineup rallied behind Beckett and gave him more run support than he probably knew what to do with. In ten of his last eleven starts before this game, we’d scored at most four runs in each. Of all our starters, he has had the least run support. Last night was probably the most relaxing game Beckett has pitched in all season long.
We didn’t waste time. Ellsbury led off the game on a single. Only Scutaro’s strikeout after that interrupted what would have been a line of four consecutive singles that brought in two. Crawford’s double brought in two more, one of which was scored by Papi, who roared around third despite Tim Bogar’s stop sign because he saw that Mike Napoli had dropped the throw home. Beckett was up by four before he even took the mound.
Pedroia singled in another run in the second. We went down in order in the third. Scutaro doubled in another run in the fourth. Papi doubled to lead off the fifth, moved to third on a sac bunt by Lowrie, and scored on a sac fly by Crawford.
Then Ellsbury hit a moon shot in the sixth. McDonald had led off the inning with a single, and Ellsbury uncorked on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat. It was a fastball away, and he hooked it Pesky-style.
With Lowrie on first in the seventh, Crawford did the same. He uncorked on the first pitch he saw in the at-bat and sent a fastball to center field.
With Scutaro on first in the eighth, Gonzalez did the same. It was the fourth pitch of the at-bat, but it was also a fastball. It was right down the pipe, and that’s what you do with a fastball right down the pipe.
The final score was 13-2. We scored so many runs, I almost didn’t even notice that the Rangers scored two of their own. We put up sixteen hits to their six. We scored a run in all but two innings. Every single member of the starting nine had at least one hit. Gonzalez and McDonald both went two for four, Papi went two for five, Ellsbury went three for five, and Crawford, believe it or not, went two for three with five RBIs and is currently nursing a seven-game hitting streak. I don’t know how long that will last. But I do know that, as Jerry Remy said, we may be getting a taste this month of what we can expect from Crawford long-term. And if that’s true, the outlook is pretty good.