In the immediate aftermath of last night's Red Sox loss, there was some frustration to be had. After all, having one a game where Daniel Bard took on Justin Verlander, how could Josh Beckett not bring back results against Max Scherzer?
Well, whether it makes sense or not, Beckett certainly managed it one way or another. But with a night's sleep separating us from the disappointment, perhaps it's not such an egregious failure after all.
For Beckett, Thursday's game was an entirely unusual outing. While he had been downright bad in other games, allowing seven earned runs to both the Indians and, in their first meeting, the Tigers, this was the first time he'd just been sort of mediocre, giving up four runs in seven innings as the Tigers managed to shoot line drives all over the park. The curveball wasn't there, and the Tigers did a good job of sitting on his fastballs.
Max Scherzer, on the other hand, was very much doing his usual thing: pitching very well, and not necessarily seeing the results from it. Aside from falling apart a bit in the first, Scherzer didn't necessarily look vulnerable. Salty did a good job turning on his homer, and the Sox lucked out some due to defensive positioning on Scott Podsednik's double, but for the most part it seemed like the Sox were hitting well early on rather than Scherzer was pitching poorly. Given the peripherals he's shown in his season to date, the middle three innings of dominance really shouldn't come as a terrible surprise.
Perhaps what was the most discouraging part of last night was the bullpen. Of late, the unit that spent the month in lockdown mode has started to show signs of weakness. On some level that's alright--Franklin Morales, for instance, hadn't been much of a part of that tremendous run, so his homer, while perhaps costly to the team, doesn't really hurt the outlook of the pen much. Seeing Rich Hill get knocked around, however, is a bit more concerning, especially given how shaky he's been for much of the season.
It also wasn't great to see some of the decisions from Bobby Valentine, with one standing out in particular: with Nick Punto having reached base by no small miracle, Valentine asked Scott Podsednik to bunt the runner over to second. It would not be so egregious--Podsednik isn't a tremendous hitter in general, and the Sox were trailing by just the one run--were it not for the disconnect it showed between Valentine's lineup and how he used it. Is Scott Podsednik the hot hand or not? Do we believe that his strong run is reason to expect continued positive play from him or not? If so, then it's a bad call to have him bunting there. If not, then it's a bad call to have him hitting leadoff in the first place.
Oh well, what's done is done. The good news is the Sox still took 3-of-4, keeping them above .500 after the long struggle to get there. Now it's on to Toronto.