This is the Josh Beckett the team has been waiting for. This is the Josh Beckett that the Red Sox need if they’re going to have a shot at the post-season.
Beating the last-place Mariners and their generally anemic offense may not be the best measuring stick for a pitcher’s progress, but Boston will gladly take it. In Beckett’s first start after missing more than a month with lower back issues, the effort to show that the ace can be effective. I was also enough for a victory.
Beckett went 5.2 innings, allowing a lone run on 5 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 5. The 8 baserunners were a few too many, but Beckett was able to work around his mistakes, which perhaps reveals more about his physical condition and his state of mind than would have been shown by a truly dominant start.
Seattle’s run came early on, in the first inning. Ichiro reached on an infield single– one of his primary skills. He stole second on a Figgins strikeout and ultimately scored when Jose Lopez smacked a ground rule double to left. But after escaping the 26-pitch inning, Beckett settled into a rhythm.
He finally got the hook in the sixth after walking Michael Saunders and raising his pitch count to 98. Unfortunately, he left a tie game, departing 1 out too soon to be eligible for the win. Because in the following frame, the Sox took the lead when Bill Hall took Jason Vargas deep for a solo shot.
Boston’s other run had also come off of Seattle’s starter. Jed Lowrie singled to lead off the fourth inning, but was erased when David Ortiz hit into a double play. Not to be discouraged, Youkilis singled to left and scored on a 2-out RBI double by Adrian Beltre.
Scott Atchison, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon finished things off for the Sox. Atchison got the win to move to 2-1 on the year while Paps earned his 22nd save. Brandon League threw two scoreless innings for the M’s. Vargas took the hard-luck loss with 7 innings pitched and 2 earned on 8 hits and 3 walks. He struck out 3.
The most interesting incident of the night wasn’t on the field, but beside it. Manager Don Wakamatsu and Chone Figgins fought in the Mariners’ dugout, sparking a curious intra-team brawl. Clearly, Seattle should have been using that energy to fight the Sox, not each other.
Boston can guarantee a series win with a victory on Saturday, when Jon Lester takes on David Pauley.