It turned out to be a huge night for the Red Sox on Friday night, as Josh Beckett pitched six strong innings and became the Majors' first 20-game winner in two years as the Sox won, 8-1, against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the Tropicana Dome.
It was a game they absolutely had to win, and it stopped their season-long high losing streak at four games. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell hit ninth-inning home runs to ice the game. And Jacoby Ellsbury made a phenomenal catch, running into the Red Sox bullpen to make a sliding catch. My heart was in my mouth when I saw him falling, but Ellsbury continues to prove he's ready to be a big time player.
But the real star of the night was Beckett. Like last Saturday, he allowed a first-inning run, but got angry and decided that was all he was going to allow. He settled in nicely from there, and had little trouble after that. Beckett may very well have won the Cy Young Award with his last two performances. He again stepped up when the Red Sox needed him, and relaxed a nervous Nation.
Combining this win with the Yankees' 14-inning loss to the Blue Jays in New York, the Red Sox increased their AL East lead back to 2 1/2 games. Their Magic Number to clinch a playoff berth is now at two (as Detroit won), but their Magic Number to win the East is now the number of the Red Sox legend featured here. (It's nice to put up another Magic Number picture after a nearly one-week drought!)
He was "The Little Professor," a tremendous outfielder and hitter who was overshadowed by his older brother who played down the road in New York. He was seven-time All-Star and a career .298 hitter. And with all due respect to Trot Nixon, he was the best player to wear his number in Red Sox history. He's also a class gentleman as well.
The great Dom DiMaggio.