Last season Josh Beckett came to a new league and got the customary rude introduction. His ERA soared above 5 (5.01), and he had the highest WHIP ratio (walks and hits/inning pitched) since 2003. Yes, he did finished sixth in the AL in starts and had sixteen wins, his career high. But if you asked him if he were happy with his performance, i don't think he'd applaud.
He could have sulked, but apparently he studied his mistakes, worked on his complementary pitches, and has developed an effective straight change and thrown his overhand Uncle Charlie to complement his 96 mph fastball. The results? He gets it. A five and nil April, with less predictability creating major problems for AL hitters.
Meanwhile, while Coco Crisp heals and Jacoby Ellsbury continues to tear up Double A (.431, two for five tonight), Wily Mo Pena delivered a tape measure homer to spearhead a 5-2 victory.
Jonathan Papelbon notched his sixth save with a four-batter ninth as the Sox head for the Big Apple.
Coming into tonight the Sox were fourth in runs scored in the AL, and fourth in OPS. The offense has averaged five runs a game, not spectacular, but adequate with improved pitching. Meanwhile, the Sox were second in the AL in E.R.A. at 3.27 and first in K/BB ratio, which predicts future E.R.A. more accurately than E.R.A. itself.
Of course a trip to the Bronx creates new problems, and Daisuke Matsuzaka will get another introduction to New York hospitality.