All of us in Red Sox Nation love Josh Beckett, but did anyone really expect that kind of performance out of our potential American League Cy Young winner?
Beckett's start tonight was his best game of the season. If you're questioning that statement, then just look at the stats and think about the circumstances. All the pressure was on Beckett's shoulders because he knew if he struggled early then John Lackey was just going to be just good enough to get the Angels to win.
But Beckett didn't even give Lackey a chance to steal this one from underneath him. Beckett was dominating the Angels lineup from pitch No. 1 to pitch No. 108. Eight strikeouts, no walks, and four hits later he walked off the mound with another complete-game shutout in the playoffs.
"Thank you, Master Beckett, may I have another?" - Angels hitters 1 through 9.
Beckett's performance set the whole series into the right motion. If the Sox had won a squeaker tonight then it wouldn't have really given the Sox a boost unless it was a dramatic walk-off win or something similar. This game was perfect though because it was just simple domination. That's it. Or, shall I say, domi-hate-tion?
And let's not kid ourselves: the Angels weren't at their worst tonight; Beckett was just at his best. No team, high-powered offense or not, would have been able to touch his filthy curveball and fastball with that extra, totally-not-overrated oomph. Yes, I said it. I believe in the Almighty OOMPH.
It was all about Beckett tonight. I really don't even have to mention anything else. I could bring up some very questionable strike calls by home plate umpire Gary Darling, or a couple fantastic catches in the outfield by Coco Crisp and Jacoby Ellsbury, or the dingers by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, but I won't.
Because, honestly, do I need to say anything at all? The home runs and the catches were the sideshow of tonight's main event. Once the offense put a couple of curvy lines up on the board, it was smooth sailing from there on out.
Once the 9th inning rolled around, the only question left to ask was: "Who's going to pitch now?" And, to my surprise, Terry Francona let his stud finish the game. No blips. No mistakes. No "ah, crap! Get Paps warm!" moments. Beckett closed the door right on the faces of every Angel in the lineup on pitch No. 108.
Lastly, a final question: can we expect that kind of performance out of Beckett for the rest of October? If the answer is yes, I think someone should reserve the duck boats now.