But brave soul that I am, I will talk about Josh Beckett's sterling performance yesterday afternoon. Seven innings, three hits, one runs and eight strikeouts gave Beckett his fifth win of the year as the Sox topped Minny 3-1. His ERA is now a more palatable (if still elevated) 4.60, but the important thing is how Beckett looks.
Beckett looks confident and in control. He looks like the guy from two years ago who mowed down the competition. He's got his swagger back and when that happens, opposing teams are in trouble. In the month of May, Beckett is 3-0 over five starts with a 2.38 ERA. His return to form is huge for the Sox. Now if Lester and Daisuke could follow his lead...
Speaking of returning to form, Jason Varitek continues to show that he can bring it at the age of 37. He went 2-3 with two solo shots. Basically, 'Tek and Beckett won the game for Boston. On the year, Jason now has 10 homers and 22 RBI. He is batting .247, which isn't horrible, but has a very nice .861 OPS that's good for third best amongst Boston starters. I'm glad he got those homers before he was ejected...
Ah yes, the umpire. While I don't dwell often on the arbiters of the game, Todd Tichenor deserves a little callout. Todd...no one comes to the game to see you! You should be invisible and have the ability to absorb a little criticism. Yes, I know you got called up from the PCL and are trying to establish yourself. But tossing both catchers and managers isn't the way to do it. Especially since (and it galls me to say this) Mike Redmond had a case on your calling Jeff Bailey safe. And since he never even touched you, tossing him was completely over the top. I can only guess your chucking 'Tek and Tito was too even the score. It was like MLB hired Joey Crawford away from the NBA to ref a game.
Back to the game...sadly, Ellsbury's hitting streak ended at 22 games. But it was an impressive display and just another peek at the talent this kid possesses. Just for kicks, I projected his numbers across a 15-year career if he stays healthy and plays at this current level. He generates some interesting numbers. At a minimum, he becomes one of the best base-stealers in MLB history. He'd be right up there with Vince Coleman and Tim Raines.
And, as always, the Sox bullpen was fantastic. Oki and Paps shut the door on the Twins, giving Oki his eighth hold of the year and Paps his 13th save. Papelbon is now tied with the Angels' Brian Fuentes for the most saves in the AL.
Julio Lugo went 0-3, but on the upside he didn't flub an easy throw or boot a ball to cost Boston the game. So that's a successful game for him.
The Sox salvaged a split in Minnesota, something for which every Sox fan should be grateful. Although, when you consider they should have swept the Twins, it kind of sucks a little as well. Hopefully the Sox can pile up a few wins in Toronto, starting tonight with Wakefield facing Casey Janssen. This will be the first time the Sox have ever seen Janssen as a starter. As a reliever, Janssen has had success against the Sox, allowing no runs in eight games and 7.1 innings of work. But that was a while ago; Janssen missed the entire 2008 season with a torn labrum. So it will be interesting to see how he fares against Boston's lineup.