Thursday, June 4

Beckett Finds his Form, ITM becomes recklessly optimistic

Josh Beckett looks to be finally finding his old form. Last night, he brought a no-hitter into the seventh and secured a 10-5 win over the Tigers. Beckett did not give up an earned run, struck out 9, and walked 2.

More importantly, this all looks like it might be part of a trend. Beckett has now thrown 4 quality starts in a row. 4. Plus some. Read that bit again, then move on to the stat lines preceding last night's: 7 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER; before that, 8, 5, 0; before that, 7, 4, 2. If that paragraph doesn't warm your heart, then there's just no hope for you.

And Beckett's isn't just an individual performance. It comes at an important point for the Sox staff, a potential watershed. We're 1/3 of the way through the season and thus far the starters have been a big disappointment. But things are shaking up. Jon Lester has put together two good starts in his last three. Daisuke has squeaked out a solid win and a not-terrible loss. Brad Penny has continued his success and allowed the Sox, comforted by the resurgence of their ace, to shop Penny more aggressively. From below, Buchholz and Smoltz are both pushing their way up and could potentially provide a shot in the arm of a rotation that's already picking up steam. All in all, with a little distance, it looks like Josh Beckett is starting to do what we thought he would---put the staff on his shoulders and carry them towards collective success. Every five days, there he is, shouldering the burden, making it okay that Daisuke only goes 5 and that Penny might get bounced a little earlier than he'd like, partly for the win, partly to save his arm (for others?). A good situation.

And if all that doesn't do it for you, read Adam Kilgore's excellent piece in yesterday's Globe on the success of Junichi Tazawa in AA Portland. I'll give you just a taste: "He has 57 strike outs in 61 1/3 innings, far and away the most innings on the team."

So yes, I woke up happy this morning. Tied for 1st, with the staff starting to do what we thought it might. And Josh Beckett to thank.

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