Once again, Josh Beckett was giving up the gopher balls, two in the first two innings, and that spurred the Tampa Bay Rays to an 8-5 win in the Tropicana Dome last night.
Beckett gave up five runs, four earned, in six innings. He settled down after the first three innings, and struck out nine. The Red Sox fought back and got the game tied at 5, but the bullpen coughed it up late. Ramon Ramirez continued to late-season fade, giving up a run in the eighth, and Manny Delcarmen poured more gasoline on the fire by giving up a two-run bomb to Evan Longoria to effectively kill any shot of a Red Sox comeback win.
I can't believe there is nothing wrong with Beckett. He allowed 10 home runs in his first 22 outings, but a simply mind-blowing 14 in his last five. He's leaving a lot of pitches in the strike zone, and the home runs to Carl Crawford and Pat Burrell. They wer smoked, as were the hits that drove in the other three runs against him. I'm sure on Boston talk radio today the big story is about Beckett, and whether he's hiding an injury or has a tired arm.
I simply can't believe you can go from a sure-bet Cy Young Award candidate to a batting practice pitcher like this without something being radically wrong. The Red Sox won't say anything, as is there custom with things like this. But without a healthy and pitching-well Beckett, the Sox stand NO chance for the 2009 postseason. None.
The Red Sox last night fought back to tie the Rays in the eighth, the tying run scored on a wild pitch. But both Alex Gonzalez (where was Mike Lowell to pinch-hit in this at-bat?) and Jacoby Ellsbury both struck out with two men in scoring position to end the final threat for the Sox in the game.
A nice comeback was wasted, and Texas came from behind to beat Toronto, so the Red Sox Wild Card lead stands at 2 1/2 games, with the finale of the series in St. Pete tonight, as Clay Buchholz tries to get the Red Sox a series win.