Yeah, Worth the Wait: Sox-Rays Postmortem I

When Josh Beckett was traded to Boston, Curt Schilling was the presumed ace, receiving the Opening Day start in 2006 and 2007. Last year, with a Cy Young-worthy season under his belt, Beckett was poised to start until a back strain delayed his season.

Rain intervened yesterday to again keep Josh Beckett from starting an Opening Day in a Boston uniform for the first time — for one day. Today, at long last, we saw Beckett starting the first game of the season for the Red Sox. 

This is the Josh Beckett we've been waiting for.

This was vintage Beckett, 10 strikeouts against just two hits and one run. In fact, it was better than vintage Beckett — in 90 previous starts with the Red Sox, he never struck out so many while allowing hits to so few. Even during his awesome 7-0 run in the first seven starts of 2007, Beckett only once posted a game score approaching 76 he posted today.

In fact, as far as Opening Days go, Beckett was flirting with club history.

In the great pantheon of Red Sox Opening Day hurlers since 1954 — Clemens, Martinez, Schilling, etc. — exactly four have posted a higher game score than Beckett did today, with the highest such score a mere 82:
  • Ray Culp, April 6, 1971 — One of the more underrated pitchers in club history, Culp shut down the Yankees with a complete game five-hitter, allowing one unearned run and striking out five in a 3-1 win.
  • Ferguson Jenkins, April 9, 1976 — The future Hall of Famer pitched a complete game in taking the hard-luck 1-0 loss to Baltimore, the lone run scoring on a pair of fourth-inning errors. Jenkins walked none and struck out eight.
  • Dennis Eckersley, April 10, 1982 — For 18 years the best recorded Opening Day start, Eckersley threw a complete-game shutout, scattering six hits while walking none and striking out six.
  • Pedro Martinez, April 1, 1998; April 4, 2000 — Pedro's very first start with the Red Sox was amazing, as he poured in 11 strikeouts in seven shutout innings, walking two and allowing just three hits. He returned in 2000 with the Sox' best-ever opener, again walking two and striking out 11 in seven innings, but this time allowing just two hits.

For the record, the worst ever Opening Day start for the Red Sox was also Pedro Martinez, thanks to his inexplicable 2002 bomb — 3 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. He finished the season with 20 wins, leading the league in ERA and strikeouts while losing the Cy Young unjustly to Barry Zito. So don't fret, Yankee fans. There's hope for C.C. yet!

12 comments… add one
  • Crap. I’ve been attending, listening, or watching red Sox baseball for 30-odd years and would have never given thought to what you just posted. Beck was excellent today, no doubt, but 4th best in history? I’m not impressed.

    Dirty Water April 7, 2009, 10:01 pm
  • So don’t fret, Yankee fans. There’s hope for C.C. yet!
    Either that, or they can bring back Carl Pavano!

    SoxFan April 8, 2009, 1:17 am
  • Is Maddon crazy? – he employed a shift on just about every batter defensively.
    Glad to see Tek hit one out. Ells still worries me at the top of the lineup (I’d almost swap he and Lowrie for a bit).
    Josh – nice! Feel a tiny bit sorry for Pena (but not much). The Rays offense doesn’t scare me as much without Upton.

    dw (sf) April 8, 2009, 9:04 am
  • Beckett looked trim, fit, and dominant. And it only makes me happier to know that my pick for Cy, Lester, goes tonight.
    They’re going to be tough to beat on those two days.

    Brad April 8, 2009, 9:04 am
  • Pena was just dealt to all night. Really, every strike three he got was a nasty pitch.

    Brad April 8, 2009, 9:11 am
  • SoxFan,
    Pavano will be back soon enough. He comes back in a few weeks I think to pitch against them. I will have never rooted harder for a seven inning shutout. haha.

    Brad April 8, 2009, 9:12 am
  • Funny you should say that Brad; my dad put $50 on Lester to win the Cy Young this year. His odds were at 20-1 when he did it a week ago.

    Atheose April 8, 2009, 12:03 pm
  • I'mBillMcNeal April 8, 2009, 1:01 pm
  • Watched snippets of the game. Hell of a performance by Beckett. I can’t wait to see the Yankees take him on.

    AndrewYF April 8, 2009, 1:08 pm
  • I agree, Andrew. But, here’s my take on that: Aces, or anyone, rarely every do well with teams in the division. Even if you look at Wangs 19 win season, or Beckett or CC’s best years, the Yankees and the Red Sox lineups are not easy to get through a few times for anyone. I don’t put any stock in what happens to any pitcher when they face these two lineups. None. If CC gets lit up by Boston for 8 runs, it won’t change the fact that he may be having a great year.
    I discount every single thing these two teams do against each other – it’s the rest of the games that make the seasons!

    Brad April 8, 2009, 1:17 pm
  • I meant the AL East – not just any division. But if Boston sees a guy five or six times, you can bet they’re going to get to him a few of them. Same with NY.

    Brad April 8, 2009, 1:18 pm
  • Oh, it’s good to have Red Sox baseball back and Commander Kick-Ass executing pitches. And it looks like Pedroia is already taking out his anger at PECOTA and other predictions of decreased power.
    Let’s hope Lester’s got it tonight and Kazmir walks the ballpark!

    Micah-SF April 8, 2009, 4:51 pm

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