Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Beckett Beauty...Boston 3 Atlanta 0

It was a true homecoming for Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe and the Fenway Faithful rose as one to greet and embrace him before the game and upon his seventh inning exit. He was clearly moved to tears although I'm pretty sure he won't admit that now. Lowe pitched great but he was facing Red Sox ace Josh Beckett...on a good day. Beckett pitched a complete game five hit shutout and needed only 94 (!!) pitches to do that. In a word, he was completely dominant. Red Sox manager Terry "Tito" Francona had this to say after the game's conclusion...

“I thought he did a lot of good things tonight,” said manager Terry Francona of his ace. “On a really aggressive team, he established his fastball in and out - movement, velocity, breaking ball, changeup.”

And here is catcher and captain Jason Varitek's take on Beckett's wizardy...

“It was his mix,” said Varitek. “Good quality location of his fastball, he changed the tilt on his fastball. I don’t think he had a great breaking ball, but it still had good break on it.”

Beckett walked no one and was in charge from start to finish. Of course, it didn't hurt that the Braves came out swinging from their heels, much like the night before against sidelined pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. But Josh mixed his wicked fastballs with off-speed stuff to keep them terminally off balance for all nine innings. He was a joy to watch...baseball fun at its extreme best.

Coupled with another Yankees loss, the Boston lead in the AL East is now back to three games. They have one more game with Atlanta this afternoon before starting a nine game road trip with stops in Washington, Atlanta and finally Baltimore. Today's pitchers will be Jurrjens (5-5) versus Wakefield (9-3) as Boston tries to go for the series win. Wouldn't that be nice? YES!!

In the other big Red Sox news, Boston has decided to take Daisuke Matsuzaka out of the starting rotation. John Smoltz will take his place next week. Here's what Tito Francona said to the assembled press...

“We don’t have anything official to announce because we really need to let this thing settle down,’’ the manager added. “I will say, I don’t think it’s any surprise, there’s some weakness that we’re going to have to fix. By that I mean it’s going to have to be addressed. But there’s is no official announcement tonight.
“We’ve been fighting this all year. It’s been hard, and I know I keep coming back to the WBC and it’s probably not a real popular thing in baseball to say that, but he didn’t really have a chance to get a foundation. He ramped up to try to get people out probably before he was ready, physically. It’s happened to pitchers where they’re pitching in earnest before their bodies or their arm are ready to do that. I think we’ve paid the price for that. We’ve been playing catch-up. We did what we thought was right, to shut him down earlier. I think we all see that it’s not really getting better. It’s been a struggle. We’re trying to address that.’’

Here's hoping that whatever is physically wrong with Daiske will be identified and remedied. Until then, the Sox have a more than capable five man rotation with Beckett, Lester, Wakefield, Penny and John Smoltz. I can live with that!

Have a wonderful Sunday, enjoy the game or the coverage of the US Open on NBC and NBC HD and as always, BE WELL. I'll see you soon...that's a promise. You can click on this post's title for more on Beckett's beauty.

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