BOSTON -- If you put the kids to bed before 8 Thursday night, the Red Sox send their apologies. Bedtime stories were likely interrupted by loud cracks of the bat and booing as severe as anything this town has ever unleashed on one of its own athletes. Nobody inside the I-95 corridor slept until Josh Beckett had taken a seat.
Beckett, already Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of many, lasted only 2 1/3 loud innings against the Cleveland Indians, his shortest start since Aug. 17, 2008. There were no cheapies among the seven hits he allowed. The Tribe had two home runs and three doubles off Beckett, who left facing a 7-1 deficit and a handful of fans behind the Boston dugout who were mimicking a golf swing.
Such is the state of affairs for the Red Sox, who lost 8-3 and are now 1-11 in their last 12 home games, as they still await some degree of consistency or effectiveness from their starting rotation. Boston starters have managed to push their ERA up to 6.06.
Through 31 games.
Nearly 20 percent of the season.
A staff ERA of 6.06.
Have no fear though, Sox fans. Clay Buchholz, the man who leads the way (the wrong way) with a 9.09 mark, gets the nod Friday. To be on the safe side, push bedtime back to 8:30 or so.
Something about the Indians: In a win over the Indians last May, Beckett showed as much emotion as you will ever see from him when reliever Rich Hill recorded a big strikeout to strand two of Beckett’s runners and help secure the victory. It was a big K for Hill, but Beckett’s outburst had as much to do with the fact that he has never enjoyed much success against Cleveland.
After the disaster Thursday night, Beckett fell to 4-6 with a 5.65 ERA against the Indians. That is his highest mark among American League teams with the exception of Toronto (6.30).
No blame for the bullpen: Actually, there hasn’t been any for weeks now. If the Red Sox starters are the cool kids who get Ds and don’t care, the bullpen is filled with drama club members who strive for, and achieve, high marks. Excluding Darnell McDonald’s one inning of work in that 17-inning loss to Baltimore, the bullpen has an ERA of 1.07 (eight earned runs in 67 innings) over its last 17 games.
He needed to be an inch taller: The Red Sox are in one of those funks where things just don’t go right, even when they have all the elements in place.
If they were to pick any pitcher, perhaps in their entire history, to make a diving catch on a flare behind the mound, Andrew Miller would be the one. He stands at 6-foot-7, has a vast wing span and can run at a pretty good pace. But even Miller couldn’t get to Johnny Damon’s bloop over the mound in the fourth, despite an all-out dive. The effort was appreciated, as it should be on a staff that is being questioned in that regard.
Don’t count out Daniel: As long as Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford remain sidelined, and as long as their replacements are sort of so-so, Daniel Nava has a chance to be a pretty big factor in the coming weeks. He hit .404 (21-for-52) with two homers, one triple and a double in his last 15 games at Pawtucket before being promoted to the active roster Thursday. And this is a guy who was hitting over .300 more than a month into his Major League debut in 2010, most of that as a starter. He also plays an adequate left field with a pretty strong arm.
Nava had an RBI double in the fifth inning and also drew a pair of walks. His double was not far from becoming his second career homer. We all remember the first.
Speaking of homers: Is it any surprise that the most consistent Red Sox player, in the field and at the plate, has been Dustin Pedroia? While the team itself rides a roller coaster, Pedroia does what he does. His home run in the seventh extended his hitting streak to 11 games, during which the former MVP has hit .313 (15-for-48).
However, Pedroia popped out with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
Home unsweet home: Boston’s issues at Fenway Park have been well-chronicled this year. While that may feel odd to those who are used to Red Sox dominance in the park, it is nothing new to Bobby Valentine. Including his time as manager of Texas and the New York Mets, Valentine is now 22-43 at Fenway.