After his last start against the Yankees, Red Sox fans were left wondering: Is Josh Beckett back? It certainly looked like it against New York--he had thrown eight shutout innings, striking out ten men in the most dominant performance Sox fans had seen in a long while. Would this last?
He wasn't as good against the Blue Jays, but he was damn close.
Seven innings, one run, five baserunners, and nine strikeouts. Impressive numbers in their own right, but it doesn't encapsulate what we've seen out of Beckett in his last two games. His velocity is back up in the mid-90's, his curveball is tight, compact, and falling for strikes. Even his cut fastball is being used properly and earning swings-and-misses.
It is ace-like. There is no other way to describe it.
Of course, the Red Sox have let some very fine pitching performances go to waste in recent days. But that wasn't to be the case today. While the Red Sox would fall short again in some critical areas--a bases loaded, no outs situation resulting in zero runs, for instance--with the help of Jed Lowrie, the team would bring in enough runs with their nine hits and eight walks to get the job done.
It all started with Jed himself, who took over the leadoff role today against lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, who was greeted by a sharply hit infield single that only ended up close thanks to a strong play by Yunel Escobar. Dustin Pedroia followed it up with a walk and then scored along with Lowrie when Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis kept it rolling with a single and a double respectively. David Ortiz' walk would set up the aforementioned bases loaded situation that eventually ended the inning.
Josh Beckett allowed the one blemish on his night immediately afterwards, allowing a double to Aaron Hill and a single to Travis Snider to make it a 2-1 game. But then down went the Jays, and up came Jacoby Ellsbury who drew his first of two walks in the game, setting up Jed Lowrie for his second hit of the game. This one went a bit further than the infield, though, as Jo-Jo Reyes' 2-2 changeup found itself deposited into the Monster seats for a two-run bomb, giving the Red Sox the 4-1 lead they would finish the game with.
While Josh Beckett was tremendous, it's worth noting that the defense behind him did a great job of keeping the heat off. Dustin Pedroia continues to make tremendous plays to his right side, and Adrian Gonzalez on multiple occasions flashed the leather that has earned him two Gold Glove awards. Even Mike Cameron joined in the fun, snatching a late fly ball in front of the wall, and sliding underneath a fast-falling pop fly to record the final out of the game.
The Red Sox now finally have their third win of the season, and perhaps more importantly, should have at least one new permanent member of the starting lineup: Jed Lowrie.