A few scribblings while watching a pitchers' duel in Minneapolis ...
• Josh Beckett entered Thursday's game with a 5.01 ERA, but there's really been nothing wrong with him that a little luck won't cure, as he's struck out 51 batters in 56 innings but given up a .346 batting average on balls in play (his career mark is .303). Well, he could use more than just a little luck. He could use a bit of control, too, as his walk rate is more than twice as high this year as in 2007. My guess is that we'll never see the 2007 version of Beckett again, but that he'll settle in with an ERA this season in the low 4's, which is good enough.
• Jason Varitek homered twice off rookie Anthony Swarzak, accounting for the Red Sox' first two runs. Varitek's already got 10 homers this season, after hitting 13 last season. We reasonably expected him to bounce back from a pretty awful 2008 ... but, this?
• One thing I'm going to miss about the Metrodome: The camera that's above and directly behind the pitcher. As you know, in nearly every ballpark, that camera is installed to the right of the pitcher (as you're looking plateward), which distorts our view of the strike zone. A pitch that looks to be an inch or two outside to a right-handed batter might actually be cutting across the corner of the plate. When you're watching a game in the Metrodome, though, you have a fantastic look at the strike zone. Best seat in the house.
• David Ortiz isn't looking any better. Early in the game, he managed to snap his bat while swinging and missing. And later, he missed some eminently hittable pitches while striking out, then broke that bat across his knee while striding through the dugout. I just can't figure out what letting him continue to struggle, day after day, is accomplishing. I guess when you're in first place, you can do whatever you like.
• Top of the 7th, Mike Redmond got tossed after plate umpire Todd Tichenor (probably) blew a big call. Jason Kubel made a brilliant throw home and Redmond tagged Jeff Bailey -- who might never have touched the plate at all -- Todd Tichenor called Bailey safe. Redmond sort of exploded, and was gone in about three seconds. That brought Gardenhire out of the dugout -- for the second time in the inning -- and he didn't last long, either. Hey, it happens. And there's enough ambiguity that I don't think even replay would have changed the call. What I took away from the play? New respect for Kubel's arm.
• Oops! Now Varitek's gone ... and Terry Francona, too! Bottom of the seventh, and Beckett looked in at Tichenor after a pitch just missed (or didn't) the outside corner, and someone might have said something, and Varitek turned around and started jawing at Tichenor, which is something that you simply can't do. Tichenor actually gave Varitek seven seconds before running him ... and then Francona, who'd sprinted out to protect Varitek, got eight seconds. Ron Coomer, working in the NESN booth with Don Orsillo, says that nobody in this game should have been ejected. Perhaps. But we don't know what Redmond said before he got run, and we do know that catchers really aren't allowed to turn around and get in the plate umpire's face. Anyway, it's just the fourth time in Varitek's career that he's been ejected, and means he won't have a chance for his second career three-homer game.
Gotta run, but I'm DVRing the game and will add more bullets later if events warrant ...