Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
Josh Beckett has always been known as a guy who can dig deep and use his intensity to dominate opposing teams.
In his last start, he blew past the Seattle Mariners. That win avenged not only his roughest start of the season, a 2 1/3 innings mess against the Indians, but also quieted the storm surrounding his off-day activities.
On Sunday, it was back to business. No one is talking about "golf" and "clubhouse chemistry" these days. They're talking about how Beckett could be back to his true form. Whatever it is that makes this guy go, he had it on Sunday, working deep into the eighth before allowing the lone run of the game on a sacrifice fly as he slipped past 100 pitches.
His line for the day? A decent 7 2/3 innings pitched, with five strikeouts and seven hits. He took the 5-1 win and lowered his ERA to 4.38.
But, while Boston has desperately needed consistent (and long) outings from its starters, perhaps the greatest takeaway from the Red Sox' dominating win on Sunday was what else Beckett had to offer.
He was a constant, but he was also confident — his performance matched a passion that is as much Beckett's strength as any fastball or strikeout can ever be.
Beckett came into the game ready to deal, and he even overcame a hiccup in the fourth inning when he hurt his toe running to cover first. On a play that may have had Red Sox fans thinking David Ortiz could have a second career in the infield, Beckett raced to first to get a toss from the sprawling Ortiz, with Phillies baserunner Shane Victorino's foot clipping his toe in the process.
It could have been a reason to call it quits or take a rest. But Beckett was all in Sunday.
"He said he wanted to stay in, and that was good enough for me," manager Bobby Valentine said of leaving Beckett in the game.
Beckett polished off the win and looked no worse for wear.
His staying on the mound did more than spare the bullpen. The Red Sox are getting an up-close view of the competitor Beckett has been for his whole career, a pitcher that has put up stops in big games and carried teams in the playoffs.
"I saw a guy who looked like he wanted it badly and had great stuff," Valentine said.
That "guy" came through for two superior starts that bookended a stretch of great play by the Red Sox. Beckett's passion is in full form, and it appears to be spreading.