Games 53 through 55 - Red Sox
Tigers 6, Red Sox 2
Red Sox 8, Tigers 3
Yankees 10, Red Sox 2 (in progress - bottom 3)
Record: About to be 33-22
I've been holding my breath over the past few weeks, thinking (hoping, maybe?) that Ebby Calvin Beckett's struggles were related to adjusting to a new league and not a sign that his bright, shiny million dollar arm was married to a 5-cent head. The jury came back tonight with an emphatic verdict. Gold? Gelded, maybe.
Beckett gave up 8 runs in 1 2/3 innings, allowing homers to Andy Phillips and Jason Giambi and running his ERA to 5.40 on the season. As I type this, Jermaine Van Buren just walked his 4th Yankee in relief of Beckett and won't make it out of the 3rd. With rookie David Pauley on the slate to be sacrificed to the Yankee offense tomorrow, it sure looks like we'll see a position player taking the mound at some point in this debacle. The Sox play 8 games in the next 7 days, which means that the starting staff has to take some of the burden off of the bullpen - this is a less than auspicious beginning to that stretch. (The Yanks just plated 3 more runs as I typed this paragraph - 13-2 after 3. Look for A-Rod to have a massive game - from this point on.)
On top of Matt Clement's well-documented headcase tendencies and David Wells' notorious instability, Beckett's mental midgetry puts the Sox in some jeopardy as the season progresses. Highly touted rookie Jon Lester makes his major league debut on Saturday - at this rate he's going to have to play a big role if the Sox want to be in the mix in September. And it's not like he's gonna have quality role models in the Fenway clubhouse. Doug Mirabelli's side job will be to keep Lester away from the twitchy guy wearing No. 30, the weird kid with the patchy beard, and the fat drunk dude. Then, Curt Schilling will get ahold of him and Lester won't be able to hear himself think for a week. It'll be up to Tim Wakefield to help the kid through his first start, which is fine so long as Wake's recent streak of snakebitten luck doesn't rub off on the lad.
Back to the issue at hand, Beckett's stuff is so, so good that it makes his inability to get outs baffling - or easily explained by his stubborn refusal to pitch instead of throw. I'll be sacrificing a live chicken in a few moments in hopes of reversing that trend. Until then, I'm just hoping that David Riske's got 6 innings in him.
(Random aside, as we're in the rambly part of this game and this blog - Jason Varitek has gone 0-2 with 2 double plays tonight, running his career record against Mike Mussina to 5-52 with 24 Ks. I'm not sure we're talking about small sample size anymore - mayhaps the Sox should consider resting 'Tek against Moose next time the righthander's turn falls against Boston.)
Oh, and in all the excitement, I completely spaced on the fact that the Columbus Clippers are the ones beating the Sox' brains in this evening. Miguel Cairo's playing short in Derek Jeter's absence, the aforementioned Andy Phillips is hitting bombs, Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams are starting in the outfield in place of Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui - you get the point. I've got a sinking feeling that this may be the last morning I wake up to see the Sox in first place for quite some time.