Back to Facing Real Opponents: Sox-Rays Gamer I

According to Baseball Prospectus, Josh Beckett is among the AL leaders in Quality Batters Faced (total OPS of the lineups he’s pitched to is 20 points higher than league average). That could explain some of his roller-coaster season, one in which he’s lately been on the upswing:

  • 1st 3 starts: 3-0, 1.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 0 HR (Tex, Tor, Sea)
  • Starts 4-6: 0-1, 9.56 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 6 HR (Tor, Cle, Tor)
  • Starts 7-10: 4-0, 2.33 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 4 HR (NYY, Bal, Phi, TB)
  • Starts 11-14: 0-2, 13.50 ERA, 2.47 WHIP, 7 HR (Tor, NYY, Tex)
  • Starts 15-18: 3-0, 2.49 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 3 HR (Atl, Phi, NYM)

Beckett had first-time success against New York, Toronto and Texas, but those potent lineups lit him up the second time around. Tampa Bay is not quite in a league with those, but they’re not bad. Will they figure out Beckett (Philadelphia couldn’t, but being in the National League they don’t play against real teams as often as Tampa does)?

The Rays will counter with Scott Kazmir, who was lethal earlier this year, but has just one quality start since May 21 and was lit up by the Sox on May 26 (5.3 IP, 5 ER). So this could be a pitcher’s duel or a slugfest — or a rout. In any case, we’ll start to get an idea of whether the Sox are as good as their record shows, or if they’ve been merely feasting on a subpar league.

Comment away!

79 comments… add one
  • Welcome back Paul :)Your not allowed to leave ever again. LOL no game thread Sat and Sundays didnt come around until the 3rd inning. So staple yourself to your chair! LOL

    TJ July 3, 2006, 7:11 pm
  • Paul: Do those opponent OPS number include what they did against Beckett? If so, then there’s a chicken-egg problem: the OPS numbers may be inflated BECAUSE they’ve faced Beckett.

    YF July 3, 2006, 7:18 pm
  • Kazmir looking pretty sharp so far…. except for that ball off Lowell’s knee. Don’t like the looks of that.

    airk July 3, 2006, 7:38 pm
  • kazmir hits lowell. could the bad blood show back up in the madden era?

    sf rod July 3, 2006, 7:38 pm
  • Is this going to be another pointmess TB-BOS beanfest? I’m damn tired of those.

    airk July 3, 2006, 7:38 pm
  • YF, good qustion. I suspect they’re season-long, which would include stats compiled against Beckett. But we’re far enough along in the season where one good game against a pitcher is not going to significantly affect your season averages. It’s no more a chicken-egg problem than looking at opponent’s winning percentage to determine a team’s strength of schedule…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 7:40 pm
  • I think Schilling had it wrong when he blamed Kazmir for the bad blood the last couple years. I always thought it was pretty clear it was a frustrated and bitter Lou Piniella…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 7:42 pm
  • great grab by Gabe the Babe at the wall

    airk July 3, 2006, 7:44 pm
  • have I ever said how much I like Kapler being home?
    NICE CATCH GABE!!

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 7:44 pm
  • oh and, eveing everyone, nice to see you all again ;)

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 7:45 pm
  • Home-run ball almost bit Beckett, but Kapler hauls it in on the track (at least if GameCast is telling truth)…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 7:45 pm
  • Nice to see everybody back here again as well…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 7:48 pm
  • Now would be a good time for Manny to tie Gehrig’s record…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:00 pm
  • … or to strike out swinging on four pitches…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:02 pm
  • Tyroneous Jeremiah Wigginton III, platoon candidate: .235 BA, .274 OBP against righties…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:05 pm
  • why, Paul, why?!?

    airk July 3, 2006, 8:06 pm
  • And he promptly homers to left. Josh, Josh, Josh…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:06 pm
  • Two straight jinxes :-P

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:07 pm
  • On the bright side, Indians have taken the lead over New York…
    And Beckett gets the double play. Cool…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:09 pm
  • clearly the grand canyon gave you starnge new powers

    airk July 3, 2006, 8:09 pm
  • *strange* powers, even

    airk July 3, 2006, 8:10 pm
  • Well, there were those lights we saw in the sky that one time…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:10 pm
  • Yay, Carl Crawford made an out, though I have no idea how, thank you GameCast and my lousy dial-up connection…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:12 pm
  • Bottom 3RD B:0 S:0 O:2
    Julio Lugo grounds into double play, second baseman Mark Loretta to first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Josh Paul out at 2nd.
    Bottom 3RD B:2 S:1 O:3
    Carl Crawford grounds out, shortstop Alex Gonzalez to first baseman Kevin Youkilis.

    TJ July 3, 2006, 8:13 pm
  • Varitek strikes out swinging at a pitch so far out of the strike zone, GameCast barely has room for it…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:14 pm
  • Sox just aren’t getting much against Kazmir today…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:16 pm
  • Already to the point where I’m hoping for long at-bats to force him earlier…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:17 pm
  • Huff with the double. Not being able to see the game, I’m assuming Becektt doesn’t have the off-speed stuff working as well tonight?

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:22 pm
  • Now the wild pitch puts Huff on third with 1 out. Yuck….

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:23 pm
  • Walks Cantu. Only pitch close to the zone was the 3-0 foul…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:24 pm
  • DP

    TJ July 3, 2006, 8:26 pm
  • A very timely dp. Beckett was all over the place that inning.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 8:26 pm
  • Beckett gets the 1-4-3 double play! Good job getting out of it…
    Are all Tampa’s hitters inept against righties? Gomes was hitting even worse than Wigginton with a slighly better OBP against righties…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:27 pm
  • Coco Crisp OBP = .322. Wow.

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:28 pm
  • Strikes out on three straight pitches…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:30 pm
  • youk comes through.

    airk July 3, 2006, 8:31 pm
  • Another error gives the Sox another chance. Let’s make em pay, Mr. All-Star!

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:31 pm
  • …in a way

    airk July 3, 2006, 8:32 pm
  • Or not. 12-pitch inning for Kazmir. At this rate, he can go 7, which is not what we want…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:33 pm
  • Kazmir looks awfully tough. We’re not playing the NL anymore.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 8:35 pm
  • Dear Josh,
    Please throw strikes to the guy hitting just .207 on the year. Thanks.
    Cordially,
    Nip.

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:36 pm
  • they have been dialed into josh since the start of the game, he was hit WAY too well in the first few ininnings…
    oh, and he just gave up a second HR

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 8:37 pm
  • Throwing strikes would have avoided the meatball that said .207 hitter just got a dinger on… Not Josh’s best game by far…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:38 pm
  • Damn that Ty

    TJ July 3, 2006, 8:38 pm
  • and again…..

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 8:38 pm
  • Back to back jacks. Nice pitch selection.

    Rob July 3, 2006, 8:38 pm
  • Third HR, 2nd by Wigginton. If he’s not tipping pithces,I’d like to know what the crap he is doing because he struggles mightily against lineups who see him a second time…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:39 pm
  • This is disgusting. Beckett really needs to stop throwing these gopher balls.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 8:40 pm
  • they have been dialed in, some deep hits to start the game off, and deep outfield flies
    and now some HR balls :(

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 8:41 pm
  • He’s pulling off a Vernon Wells, which will be ok if Boston can get some runs cause I have wiggington on one of my fantasy teams:P

    TJ July 3, 2006, 8:41 pm
  • After giving up two home runs, one to freaking .207 Russell Branyan, Beckett comes back with two Ks (one against Crawford) and a grounder. Couldn’t have done that to start off the inning, Josh?

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:45 pm
  • Beckett and strange stats: He is 10th in the majors with a BAA of .229, but he is tied for HR allowed, with 23. If you subtract the 23 HRs, he would have an ERA of 2.91, which would be 3rd in the AL.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 8:47 pm
  • Oooh, an EIGHT-pitch inning this time. Way to make him wotk, guys!

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:48 pm
  • Or work…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:49 pm
  • This is where the longballs really do damage. C’mon Josh!

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 8:55 pm
  • This is utterly sad. Kazmir is a buzz saw against our lineup again. The only game this year that I thought was worse for us offensively was the Johan “K” Santana game.

    Rob July 3, 2006, 8:59 pm
  • Beckett’s problem is that he learned to pitch in the National League, which has led to him being much more of a thrower than a pitcher. He has a plus fastball and a nice curve, but he has questionable location on the fastball and no control of that curve.
    That’s ok in the NL. It’s a fastball league with a bigger strike zone and more aggressive hitters in weaker lineups. Unless he was facing the Cards, he had one or two guys to pitch around and can just fire away on all others.
    In the NL, he was able to just heave it 97 and not really worry about location, so long as it wasn’t dead center. That curve was a useful strikeout pitch even if in the dirt. In the AL, the hitters are better and often more patient, and they’ll eat him alive on hitters’ counts. Just being a thrower doesn’t fly.
    Of course, he has a guy in his dugout who could teach him to be less of a thrower and more of a pitcher… but for all of the (presumably Schilling-driven) media coverage of his big brother-little brother relationship with Beckett, it hasn’t led to on-the-field results.

    MP July 3, 2006, 9:01 pm
  • Another eight-pitch inning, including three straight strikes to Crisp…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:02 pm
  • MP, don’t know if 10 wins and some of the brilliance we’ve seen qualifies as not leading to on-field results. Beckett is adjusting to life in the AL, for sure, particularly the aspect that the best lineups in the NL only feature 7 or 8 good hitters. I think he’s learning, with some results being better than others…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:05 pm
  • Another DP keeps Beckett under 100 pitches through 7. As frustrating as the homers are, the problem in this game has been Kazmir. Beckett’s gone 7 IP, given up 7 hits, 3 tuns, struck out 8, walked 3. Not bad at all. If the Sox merely reached their season average in runs (let alone their average over the last 15 games), we’d be talking about Beckett’s solid performance right now and he’d be in line for a win…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:13 pm
  • Kazmir, incidentally, is throwing a one-hitter — with AGon getting the only hit. What with the two errors, I hadn’t realized how much the offense had been shut down…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:15 pm
  • Youk walks, M-Lor trying to bunt him over, fouls out. It’s one thing if you’re AGon, but I want Loretta hitting up there. He always makes contact, at least throw a hit and run out there… Bunting just seems wasteful when you’re down by three…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:17 pm
  • Papi Ks, thus ending what is likely our last chance. I can’t see Kazmir coming out of this game, and he’s dominated every part of this batting order…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:20 pm
  • This is a depressing game. The Sox haven’t been shut down like this since before Paul left on vacation. Pack up, Paul!

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 9:21 pm
  • At least the Yankees and Blue Jays are losing, too.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 9:22 pm
  • lol, I can’t wait to ecplain to my bosses:
    “You see, when I was on vacation, the Red Sox were winning a lot. In the one day, I’ve been back, they’ve lost, so naturally, I need to take a couple more weeks’ vacation time…”
    In my defense, the Sox had won eight or nine in a row already when I went on my trip…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:25 pm
  • Paul, Beckett’s occasional brilliance is just that — occasional. A lot of pitchers have several good outings a year. Surely Beckett has the potential to be great, but he’s a long way from that.
    As for 10 wins, c’mon. Beckett has a 100% quality start-to-win conversion rate. He wins when he pitches pretty well. If, say, Curt Schilling or Mike Mussina were as lucky, they’d have 14 or 15 wins.
    Moreover, his losses have been REALLY bad. It’s not just that he has no tough-luck losses (as I said, a QS=W for Beckett), but in his losses he’s been so bad as to effectively foreclose any chance of Boston winning the game. They’re also 1-2 in his NDs.
    Don’t get me wrong — I loved the Beckett move by the Sox. I’m just not particularly impressed so far.

    MP July 3, 2006, 9:25 pm
  • It looks like today will be Becektt’s first loss in a quality start, barring a miracle here… Lopez gets another DP. That’s something like the fourth or fifth today by the Sox…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:28 pm
  • Manny starts it off with a double. Wonder if we might see something really fun happen here…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:29 pm
  • MP, as much as I hated the hrs in this game, Beckett went 7, and gave up 7 hits and 3 runs. That is a quality start. His only real problem is the HRs. As I posted earlier, take away his HRs, and his ERA is below 3.00. That being said, I am not overwhelmed by Becketts performance either.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 9:31 pm
  • Thanks, Tek. That was craptastic.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 9:32 pm
  • But Tek Ks, per ususal… It’s getting back to the point where he’s hurting us by being so high up in the lineup… Right now, he’s our ninth-best hitter, and he’s batting fifth…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:32 pm
  • Game over. Kazmir is a stud.

    Tom sf July 3, 2006, 9:36 pm
  • kazmir on my fantasy team.
    2 hit CG is pretty nice
    but why can’t he do it against somebod else :(

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 9:36 pm
  • well at least the yanks are down 5-2 at them moment so hopefully nobody gaines a game.

    TheTree1918 July 3, 2006, 9:38 pm
  • Lowell pops out, Kapler grounds out, and that’s ballgame. Two hits, two walks, two reach-on-errors. That’s the sum total of the Sox’ offense today against Scott Kazmir.
    Three solo homers is about all the Rays could manage against Beckett, but it’s enough. Bleck. Welcome back to AL play, folks.
    As for the Beckett stuff, I think MP is right in that the strength of Beckett’s fastball relies largely on his ability to locate his curveball, which has been very on followed by very off (as we see in the results). I think that will improve as he cntinues to adjust to the stronger league and learns more from Schilling. I expect big things from him. Thus far, we’ve gotten biggish things from him. Not bad, but not good enough…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:38 pm
  • Tom – I guess I picked the wrong time to make that QS point! :) Looks like he was pretty good tonight — there’s not much you can do when the opposing pitcher spins a 2-hitter.
    Re: the home run point, I don’t look too much into that. It’s nice to know if he could keep it in the park he’d be better, but he _can’t keep it in the park_. He thinks he can beat guys by just throwing a fastball as hard as he can and that just doesn’t work as well against the AL lineups.

    MP July 3, 2006, 9:40 pm
  • I’ve suspected that his HR troubles might be a function of immaturity — he wants to blow guys away, and sometimes that feeling gets the better of him. As HRs continue to bite him, I imagine (hope?) that he’ll get the gist of the league and start using his breaking stuff…

    Paul SF July 3, 2006, 9:44 pm
  • We’ll see, Paul. What you dub immaturity, I’d call the difference between what a 97mph fastball can do in each league.
    I *do* think he’ll improve over the next few years, though.

    MP July 3, 2006, 9:59 pm

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