"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: josh beckett

Take It Like A Man

CC Sabathia, Francisco Cervelli, Joe Girardi

CC Sabathia heads to the dugout after giving up a 2-0 lead in the seventh. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

If a game happens and no one stays awake to watch it, did it actually happen? The answer, of course, is yes.

The start of Thursday’s game was delayed 3 hours and 27 minutes due to thunderstorms that ripped through the New York metropolitan area. The lone West Coast game in San Francisco started and finished before the Red Sox-Yankees series finale.

And if you thought a first-inning home run by Curtis Granderson, one that gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, would be the start of a big night against Josh Beckett, you’d have thought wrong. Beckett, who entered the evening 2-0 against the Yankees this season, with 19 Ks and holding the Yankees to a .128 batting average against him through 14 innings, settled in and only allowed five more base runners (2 H, 2 HBP, 1 BB), and no one advanced beyond second base.

CC Sabathia, on the other hand, was an ace in his own right, but only through six innings. The turning point was a dumb-luck triple by Jed Lowrie to right field in the top of the seventh inning. The ball was scooting along the ground down the right field line, and Nick Swisher anticipated playing the carom. Instead, the ball stayed close to the ground and skidded, finding its way onto the metal below the padding of the wall and hydroplaned past Swisher and into the corner. Swisher fell down in the process. This mishap, all of which took about two seconds to develop, allowed David Ortiz, who led of the inning with a seemingly harmless single, to score.

At that point, you could sense the Red Sox’ attitude morph into a collective “We’ve got ’em now.” And they did. When the carnage of the inning was completed, 11 men were sent to the plate, eight got hits, and seven scored. Ortiz alone had two hits, scored a run, and drove in two. Ballgame over. The outs were louder than some of the hits. The singles by Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury, and the bases-loaded single by Adrian Gonzalez that eventually sent Sabathia to the showers were seeing-eye singles. Bleeders. But they were better than anything the Yankees could muster against Beckett.

The good tidings the Yankees brought home following a 6-3 West Coast trip have officially been erased. A one-game lead is now a two-game deficit. The Yankees are 0-6 against the Red Sox at home this season, and 1-8 against them overall. A quarter of the Red Sox’ wins and a third of the Yankees’ losses have come against each other.

We could say, “This is setting up for the typical second-half surge against the Red Sox,” but doing so could be a mistake. This Yankees team has not hit well with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox have. (Thursday’s split was 7-for-15 for the Red Sox, 0-for-5 for the Yankees). The Yankees’ bullpen is in shambles, with the recent news of Joba Chamberlain’s season ending and the high likelihood of his requiring Tommy John surgery. The starting lineup only carries one hitter with a batting average above .275.

To paraphrase former NFL coach Dennis Green from one of the all-time greatest post-game press conferences, the Red Sox are who we thought they would be. What are the Yankees?

Me Rubber, You Glue…

Chocolate Thunder vs Texas Heat. Yanks and Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday Night Baseball.

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Harvey Frommer.com]

On the DL

Sorry about this folks, but the Banter is taking the day off on the count of I’m sick at home. I twisted my lower back over the weekend and am in no position to be doing much of anything.

To keep you busy with baseball news, don’t forget to check out these spots:

Baseball Think Factory, Hardball Talk, The Pinstriped Bible, River Ave Blues and Was Watching.

Oh yeah, and check out this piece by Glenn Stout on Josh Beckett’s historically bad season:

How bad has Josh Beckett been? Using ERA and a minimum of fourteen starts as a measure, every other pitcher in Red Sox history – with one notable exception – has been NABAB – Not As Bad As Beckett. Matt Young in 1991? Sixteen Starts and a 5.18 ERA, but Not As Bad As Beckett. Danny Darwin in 1994? Thirteen starts and 6.30 – NABAB. Frank Castillo in 2002? NABAB. Ramon Martinez in 2000, Jerry Casale in 1960, Gordon Rhodes in 1935, Frank Heimach in 1926? You can look ‘em up, NABABs all. Even the immortal Joe Harris, who went 2-21 for the 1906 Red Sox, was NABAB – his ERA was a sparkling 3.52, a number Josh Beckett and Theo Epstein would both kill for. And the list goes on and on and on and on.

Somehow this historic achievement has gone unnoticed. In a season best defined by the disabled list it has been easy to overlook Beckett’s expressionless appearances on the mound. Then again, they’ve often been so brief he’s been easy to miss. The fact is even with all the injuries, if Josh Beckett was pitching like an average starting pitcher, rather than a historically bad one, the Red Sox would be making plans for October.

We’ll have a game thread up tonight for the game…

[Picture by Bags]

Dustin, the Win

I’m guessing that even the most optimistic among us were a bit on edge heading into Sunday night’s game.  Josh Beckett was on the mound for the Red Sox, and the Yankees were countering with Dustin Moseley, starting in place of A.J. Burnett, who’s been at least temporarily shelved due to back spasms.  (Unconfirmed reports indicate that these “back spasms” could be the result of torque on the spine caused by his frequent need to snap his head around to follow the flight of home runs.)  The good news coming in, though, was that Moseley had showed promise in his last outing against Toronto while Beckett had struggled against the Yanks this year, allowing 19 runs in three starts.  Both trends would continue.

Moseley worked efficiently through the first four innings, yielding just two hits and two walks.  Bill Hall led off the fifth with a home run, but this was only a minor blip as Moseley needed just six pitches to retire the next three hitters.  On the other side of the scorecard, Beckett was struggling.  After working around two singles in the opening frame, he gave up two runs in the second inning thanks to a Lance Berkman double and consecutive two-out singles by Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, and Nick Swisher.  (Jeter’s hit was the 2,874th of his career, one more than Babe Ruth.)

Beckett appeared to settle down, looking disturbingly like the old Josh Beckett as he blitzed through the fourth, but Mark Teixeira opened the fifth with a no-doubt home run deep into the right field bleachers, and things unravelled from there.  A walk to A-Rod was followed by a plunking of Robinson Canó (no drama, though — the pitch just nicked Canó’s knee cap), and Berkman plated the fourth Yankee run when he laced a double down the left field line.  My daughter Alison and I looked at her scorebook and noticed that Fat Elvis was 3 for 3, and she said, “You were right when you said he’d have a good game tonight.”

But the inning wasn’t over.  A few batters later Jeter smacked Beckett’s last pitch of the night into the gap in right center, and suddenly it was 7-1.  Beckett grimaced atop the mound as he waited for Francona’s inevitable hook, and I tried to explain to Alison why it was extra delicious to watch Beckett suffer.  “Is he mean?”  Well, no, but he isn’t very nice.  “But if he isn’t nice, doesn’t that mean that he’s mean?”  I didn’t have an answer, so we just turned back to the game.

All that was left was to watch Joe Girardi mismanage the bullpen.  Moseley got in a bit of trouble in the seventh, putting runners on first and third with one out.  With a six-run lead and a low pitch-count (82), it seemed like it might’ve been a good idea to let him try to finish the inning, if only to see how he’d respond to a jam like that, but Girardi pulled him in favor of Joba Chamberlain.  Joba wasn’t bad, he just didn’t get the job done.  He allowed a run to score on an infield single, but that wasn’t the problem.  After getting Jacoby Ellsbury to pop up for the second out, he quickly jumped ahead of Marco Scutaro, and the inning looked to be over.  With a 1-2 count and a 96-MPH fastball in his quiver, Joba tried to get cute with his slider and walked the Boston shortstop to load the bases for David Ortíz.  Minutes earlier the game had been in hand, but suddenly it was just a swing away from being 7-6.  Lefty Boone Logan replaced Chamberlain and made things a bit sweaty by running the count full before getting Papi to ground out to end the inning.

But wait — there was more mismanagement.  Girardi brought David Robertson in to pitch the ninth inning, and I was thinking that it was nice that Mariano Rivera would have  the day off.  But when Robertson walked Ellsbury to put runners on first and second with two outs — and a five run lead on the eighth day of August — Girardi called for Rivera.  He threw one pitch.  Scutaro bounced a ball to Canó, who flipped to Jeter to end the game. Yankees 7, Red Sox 2.

The one good thing about all this is that Girardi’s machinations gave me an excuse to write a little more about Rivera.  In 1990 Dennis Eckersley had what is probably the best season any closer has had in the current era.  His ERA and WHIP were identical at 0.61, but here are the interesting numbers: 48 saves, 41 hits, 4 walks.  Right now Rivera has 23 saves, 19 hits, and 6 walks.  Following that 1990 campaign, Eckersley said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I had more saves than hits and walks combined.  If anyone ever does that, I’ll walk out to the pitcher’s mound and kiss his ass in front of 50,000 people.”  It just might be time to pucker up.

* You can get a cool scorebook just like Alison’s by visiting http://www.ilovetoscore.com/, a New York-based company operated by loyal Banterite, Michael Schwartz.

Sunday Gravy

Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett were all set for a Sunday Night Red Ass Bake-Off but Burnett has “tightness in his back” and has been replaced by Dustin “FBI Agent Alonzo” Mosley. Burnett is now scheduled to pitch Tuesday; Phil Hughes will go tomorrow afternoon.

Meanwhile, Lance Berkman is handling the Bronx Cheer in stride. According to Chad Jennings:

“Trust me, I’m booing myself,” [Lance Berkman] said. “I have no credibility here… I didn’t come up here to catch a break. I came up here to play well and win.”

…“As long as it’s not my wife or kids, I’m fine with it,” he said. “This is a big boy’s game and place to play, and if you can’t handle that, go home.”

I think the Big Puma is going to bust-out shortly…

Alex Rodriguez is penciled into the line-up though that is subject to change.

Yanks going for their second-straight win:

Let’s Go Yan-kees.

[Photo Credit: Food Network]

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver