Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Ace Man Returneth

I think last night should quell any remaining doubt about Josh Beckett returning to form. In what was the biggest game of the 2009 season so far, and against the hated Faded Dynasty to the south, Beckett crushed the Yankees like a paper cup and led the way to a Boston 7-0 thrashing of the Yankees.

"Crushed" may even be too tame a word. "Destroyed" works well for me. Beckett went six innings and allowed just one hit while fanning eight. His location could have been a wee bit better, but that isn't even worth complaining about after his domination of the "dreaded" Yankee lineup.

Becket is now 7-2 and has won five games in a row. Between May 1 and June 9, Beckett lowered his ERA by around 3.5 runs (7.22 to 3.77). He has thrown 6+ innings in seven straight games. So far in June, Beckett is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.67 BAA. Outside of Doc Halliday of the Frozen North and Josh's teammate Jon Lester, there isn't anyone throwing the ball as well as Beckett right now.

And his one-time teammate, A.J. Burnett, completely stunk it up on the other side. He looked atrocious. Aviv invoked the dreaded "Could he be Pavano?" question. Why stop there? He could be the next Kevin Brown, or the next Randy Johnson, or the next Jeff Weaver, or the next Jared Wright, or...well, you get the point.

Mr. "Is It My Contract Year Yet?" couldn't even get through three innings. He walked five and struck out only one. Burnett located less than half his pitches for strikes. Oh, and he gave up a center-field bomb to Big Papi.

Ah, Big Papi...he is very quietly re-establishing himself as a hitter in the sixth slot. For the month of June, Papi is hitting .292 with a .903 OPS thanks in large part to a robust .583 slugging percentage. He has two homers and six RBI in 24 at-bats over six games. If he could keep this level of production up, he would add another 100+ RBI and 34 homers to his totals. Odds are that won't happen. But if over the last 104 games Papi could give the Sox around 80 RBI and 20-25 homers...would anyone here object? I sure wouldn't. It's decent production and allows the Sox to save their trading chips for other concerns. So I am withdrawing my demand for Papi to go on the DL. Right now he is getting it done.

And then there is Nick Green, Super-Sub. 2-4 with a pair of RBI thanks to a double in the third. And he scored a pair of runs as well, and did all this without commiting an error. Really, he seems like the kind of player the Yanks wished they had...

I would be remiss without mentioning the fine job the Boston bullpen did, making the Yankees look like schookids. Rookie Daniel Bard, who I don't think is going back to The Bucket, needed only 10 pitches to finish the ninth. Kid has an ERA of 0.86 so far. You could triple that and it would still be 2.5 times smaller than Jose Veras' ERA. But no, Yanks, that's a solid arm you got there...*snicker*.

All in all, that was a completely enjoyable game. Will that kind of fun be replicated over the next two games? We'll have to see but keep in mind that the Yankees, lame as they are, have a good team. A sweep against them would be awesome but the odds are against it. However, we get to see Wang tonight, who has just lost it over the past couple of games. Meanwhile, we throw Wakefield out on the mound. The Yankees have been a thorn in his side. But Wakes is at home and that could make all the difference for him.

But man, what a great game. So good Aviv had to turn it off in disgust (although it was for his son's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jack! For a present, maybe Daddy will get you to root for a team that isn't fading into mediocrity...) What did I tell you way back before the season began, Aviv? Burnett is going to be a bust. Your team bought him based on a contract-year performance when anyone with a computer and an index finger could have looked up that Burnett's contract years are outliers for his overall peformance. Good luck with that.

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