Unfortunately for the hard-throwing right-hander, there’s no do-over for his rough outing against the Indians, during which he couldn’t make it out of the third inning.
Beckett allowed seven earned runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings while suffering the loss and once again forcing Bobby Valentine to turn to his bullpen earlier than he hoped. Beckett had been finding some consistency of late after a dismal start to the season in Detroit, but Thursday’s debacle is a reminder that the right-hander is still prone to momentary lapses in execution.
“For me, today was a lot like five starts ago,” Beckett said after Thursday’s loss, referring to his shaky first start against the Tigers. “Everything’s flat, everything’s in the middle. I think some of the other guys have kind of started turning the corner.”
Beckett also appeared to have turned the corner prior to Thursday. Although much of the news surrounding Beckett had been his golf round a day after being scratched due to a sore lat, things had been going relatively smoothly on the field for the right-hander, even if it wasn’t exactly reflected in the win column.
Beckett went at least six innings in his previous four starts, which even included an eight-inning gem against the Rays on April 13. In his last start on April 29, Beckett limited the White Sox to three runs in 6 2/3 innings despite suffering the loss.
So to say Beckett took a major step backward on Thursday would be an understatement. However, he’s not ready to blame the recent layoff — which spanned 11 days — for his lack of execution against the Tribe.
“I threw a bullpen three days ago. I felt good in it, made some minor adjustments,” Beckett said while downplaying the layoff’s impact. “Everything was flat, the same speed. You can’t throw balls down the middle of the plate.”
Beckett also noted an inability to make adjustments on Thursday, something that’s necessary for pitchers to do on a pitch-by-pitch basis in order to thrive in this league. But perhaps more important than pitch-by-pitch adjustments are start-by-start adjustments, and Beckett will need to improve his pitch execution next time out to ensure things don’t snowball from here.
The start after he got shelled in Detroit, Beckett responded with the eight-inning masterpiece against Tampa Bay. You can bet he’ll be looking to replicate that turnaround when he takes the hill against Seattle on Tuesday — his next scheduled start.
And it’s important that Beckett shake off Thursday’s rocky performance. We saw during last September’s collapse the overall malaise that inconsistent pitching can cause, and much of that fell on the shoulders of Beckett, who struggled mightily down the stretch after spending most of the season in the AL Cy Young conversation.
So no, Beckett can’t take a mulligan for this one. But there’s always the next hole — or start, in this case — which is exactly where Beckett’s mind needs to be.
If it isn’t, the losses could continue to pile up for the Red Sox, just as they did last September.