One Bad Inning: Sox Can't Overcome Terrible First From Beckett, Fall 5-4

So what was that?

It Balls left the park, a should-have-been pitchers' duel became a blowout, and Josh Beckett's ERA spiked from 2.17 to 2.47. The Mariners sent their first four batters of the night on, and eventually around the basepaths, and left the first inning with a 5-0 lead.

"Shell-shocked" might be the best way to describe the Sox in the immediate aftermath. And who could blame them? This was the same Josh Beckett who had only given up so many runs in an entire game just once before on the year. In fact, the five runs he allowed in the first matched the total number of first-inning runs he'd given up in the 22 games before Saturday's.

It took a couple of 1-2-3 innings and, ultimately, a bit of controversy to wake them up. With Jacoby Ellsbury on third and one out in the ninth, Dustin Pedroia lifted a fly ball to right field that might have gotten Ellsbury in cleanly had he been up against just about any other arm. Instead, with Ichiro throwing, Ellsbury found Josh Bard waiting for him with the ball at the plate. The initial call was safe, with Ellsbury having bowled Bard over, but it was clear enough to at least one other umpire that Bard had the ball well in hand up until, well after the collision, he had pulled it from his glove to show to the umpire, only letting it fall onto his chest in the aftermath. The call was reversed, Francona was ejected, and the inning was over.

Correct or not, this had the effect of seemingly waking the top-of-the-order up for the sixth. Marco Scutaro led off the frame with a (catchable) triple, then scored on Jacoby Ellsbury's twentieth homer of the season. Gonzalez followed up with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line, taking advantage of the shift, and scored himself as Pedroia followed suit with Ellsbury, going opposite field for his own long ball.

Unfortunately, that's where the momentum died. While the Sox' bullpen did an admirable job, double plays in the seventh and eighth innings along with a baffling decision by Darnell McDonald to run on a 2-0 count after the pitcher had already walked David Ortiz (whom McDonald was running for) left the Sox unable to get that last push they needed to tie things up. 

If there's one good thing that comes from this, it's that while Sox fans are dealing with a painful, frustrating loss, the Sox aren't too happy about it. The team has been stuck in something of a rut for the past three weeks now, it seems. So to see them get pissed off about the sort of game that some teams might just wave off given the current wild card standings is, for whatever reason, encouraging.

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