The ace came out of the gates slowly, giving up a pair of runs in each of the first two innings. However, Beckett regained his best stuff and benefited from a seven-run explosion from the Red Sox in the bottom of the second to earn his 17th victory in an 11-6 Red Sox win.
Red Sox 11, Indians 6
Fenway Park, Boston, Mass.
Oct. 3, 2009
Headliner: Things looked ugly in the early goings until Victor Martinez stepped up in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded. The catcher, batting righty, took a 3-1 pitch over the outside corner and sent it into the bullpen for his first career grand slam. When it came down, a 4-4 tie instantly became an 8-4 Red Sox lead, and they never looked back.
The home run was Martinez's 23rd of the season, and the four RBIs brought his total to 108 on the year.
Dirt Dog: It's been one of the more interesting weeks in Dusty Brown's baseball life.
Brown pitched an inning of relief against the Blue Jays earlier in the week, becoming the first catcher to do so in team history. On Saturday, he entered the game in the sixth inning for Martinez and flew out in his first at-bat.
In his next at-bat, he experienced a moment that he'll never forget. Brown sent a 1-0 offering from Mike Gosling over the fence for his first career home run. He was given the cold shoulder by his teammates in the dugout before they congratulated him, and the Fenway faithful wanted and received a curtain call.
Better Luck Next Time: Aaron Laffey might never be confused for Josh Beckett, but on Saturday, the 24-year-old had a chance to outduel the Red Sox' ace.
Spotted four runs in the first two innings, Laffey was unable to make it into the third inning, giving up eight earned runs on seven hits and two walks.
Key Moment: With Beckett struggling through the first two innings and the Red Sox with nothing tangible to play for, it looked like it might be an ugly night at the Fens.
But the Boston bats responded in a big way, starting with a David Ortiz double in the second. The next three batters reached (and all runners advanced on a balk) before Dustin Pedroia, who led off the first with a homer to left, was intentionally walked.
The Red Sox made the Indians pay, with Jason Bay singling before Martinez's grand slam.
In all, the Sox scored 10 runs in the first three innings, taking care of business early and helping their ace pick up his 17th win.
On Deck: The regular-season finale will be Sunday afternoon, with Clay Buchholz (7-4, 3.74 ERA) set to square off against former Red Sox pitcher Tomo Ohka (1-4, 5.45 ERA). Buchholz will be looking to rebound from a rough outing against the Blue Jays on Sept. 29, when the 25-year-old gave up five home runs at Fenway on the way to his fourth loss. Terry Francona has yet to announce a postseason rotation, so a solid performance on Sunday could solidify Buchholz's spot as the third starter.