Thursday, April 05, 2007

Beckett shines in season debut against Royals

Maybe Red Sox fans could sleep better last night after watching Josh Beckett’s season debut against Kansas City as the Sox take an easy win from then Royals 7 – 1 in a very chilly Kauffman Stadium. Beckett went only five innings striking out five, walking four, and giving up two hits with one run from a sacrifice fly from C Jason Larue.

"Beckett had a high pitch count," Manager Terry Francona said. "Again, he made some pitches and he got us through five, and we thought that was plenty. Our bullpen did a great job. Snyder came in and put up some zeroes. We added on." Sox scored three runs in the first inning to give Josh Beckett some breathing room to start the game, when he exited in the sixth the score remained 3 – 1. Relievers Javier Lopez, Kyle Snyder, J.C. Romero, and Joel Pinero would finish out the game letting up one hit and striking out three.

The Sox would get off to a hot start in the first after a walk by Kansas City starter Odalis Perez to David Ortiz and a single by Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew would bring in Ortiz on a RBI Single followed by a 2-RBI double by Mike Lowell. Kevin Youkilis would also contribute in the seventh inning with a 2-run homerun off Todd Wellemeyer to secure the lead for the Sox bullpen.

"Our bullpen did a great job. We swung the bats well," said third baseman Mike Lowell. "It's a good win. Hopefully we can win the series tomorrow and keep moving on." Lowell, who helped with his bat last night but not with his glove making two fielding errors and one throwing error for a career-high 3 fielding errors. J.D. Drew would bail out Lowell in the third after robbing Mike Sweeney of a line drive in Right Field by making a great catch that would have scored Mark Teahen and Mark Grudzielanek who reached base on back-to-back errors by Lowell.
The big question going into this game was of course starter Josh Beckett, who entered the game with higher expectations from Sox nation after his below par performance in 2006 (16 – 11 5.01 ERA). After much work in the off-season and development of his fastball and breaking ball, Beckett is ready to break out this year. In an interview with MLB reporter Ian Browne, Beckett said "If you look at my mechanics from last year to this year, I'm a lot slower, particularly out of the windup. I think going slower at the beginning and not rushing through your delivery, it helps me just throw the ball late. It's just like a golf swing -- your power is the last three feet of your golf swing. Same thing with pitching. The last foot and a half of my arm slot is what dictates how hard I'm going to throw the ball and where I'm going to throw it." Beckett came out this spring and pitched much like his old, younger self with a 3 – 1 record, 3.14 ERA and a 9.1 K/9IP average. He has gained much more command of his fastball, changeup, and his curve during this off-season. You can expect more of the same from Beckett over the course of the season.

As for Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka , he will make his major league debut today at 2:10 in Kansas City against young RHP Zack Greinke.

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