15-12: Offense wastes Beckett’s dominant return, 3-0

The Red Sox got another dominating outing from their starting rotation, but it went to waste for the second time within 24 hours, as James Shields (3-1) tossed a two-hit shutout at the Sox, 3-0. The Rays swept the three-game series in Tampa, moving into a tie for first place with (gasp) Baltimore.

Josh Beckett (2-2) was as dominating as ever, striking out the first five hitters he saw with 96 mph heat, and finishing with a career-high 13 Ks over seven innings of work. His fastball had some serious sizzle and he was able to throw it right at the knees at will. He threw 70 out of 107 pitches for strikes, and when he missed, it wasn’t by much.

Beckett cost himself in the 3rd inning, when he threw over to first in an attempt to hold Jason Bartlett on; the ball was thrown to the second base side as Bartlett was coming back to the bag, and rolled all the way up the line in foul territory into right field. J.D. Drew finally recovered it and threw back in weakly, but not before Bartlett had time to scamper all the way around the bases to score the Rays’ first run. Drew was also charged with an error on the play.

Beckett allowed one more run in the seventh on a solo home run by rookie Evan Longoria on a hanging curveball. The final run came in the 8th off of Manny Delcarmen; he hit Bartlett to start things off, and Bartlett stole second on a close throw. Then Delcarmen made a mistake on a changeup left right down the middle to Carl Crawford.

The lineup really had trouble with Shields today. He was able to locate his 91-93 mph fastball and good slider all game, and induced 12 ground balls and several pop ups to keep things under control. Again, the infield defense, and particularly Bartlett, has made all the difference this season for the Rays. Shields was taken to the warning track just once by Jed Lowrie, to dead center in the 6th. Only Dustin Pedroia and Julio Lugo managed hits off of him, and he walked only Manny Ramirez. Manny stole second after that walk in the top of the 5th, his first since 2005, BTW. Shields fanned seven hitters, including Coco Crisp twice en route to his first Major League shutout. He needed only 99 pitches in the outing.

If you look at the lines and the out data, Beckett probably pitched better than Shields, even with the home run. That’s what makes this game so frustrating. But even Beckett can’t win if the team scores no runs.

With this game, the Sox lineup is seriously slumping, having scored just 1 run in the last two games, and only 14 over the last five.The Sox will get a much-needed day off Monday, so let’s hope it recharges their batteries to rest and get back into Fenway.


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