Josh Beckett continued to struggle on Wednesday afternoon and failed to give his club much of a chance to win what could be an important ball game when the season ends. If, and it’s a big if, the Red Sox should lose out on the Wild Card by a game or two, this loss 10-9 loss to the Rangers could be one that they look back on and say “if only our starting pitcher had given us a chance.” The offense showed up and rallied on multiple occasions before falling short in the ninth and dropping the rubber match of a three game set against Texas.
Beckett was awful right from the outset, allowing the first three batters to reach base that included a two-run triple by Josh Hamilton. Adrian Beltre would bring in Hamilton on a sac fly and it was 3-0 Texas before Beckett could record an out.
But Boston battled and the bats showed up starting in the bottom of the first scoring two runs on an Adrian Gonzalez and a single by Cody Ross. The Red Sox would tie the game in the third thanks to a Ross home run, his 17th of the season, before Beckett would serve up two more meatballs in the fifth on home runs to Mitch Moreland (a solo shot) and Hamilton (a two-run shot).
Yet again, the Red Sox offense wouldn’t roll over on what was a gorgeous afternoon at Fenway. Gonzalez ripped another run scoring double and would later score on a pass ball by reliever Roy Oswalt, pulling the Sox to within one.
Then Beckett was back out there for the sixth and he again did his best to try and sink the Sox, serving up his third home run of the day, this time a two-run blast to Geovany Soto to extend the Rangers lead to 8-5.
Texas would get one more in the seventh when Nelson Cruz went deep, setting up a dramatic bottom half of the inning that saw yet another rally by the Red Sox.
Gonzalez collected his third double of the day and third RBI, plating Dustin Pedroia, before Will Middlebrooks tied the game with one swing of the bat, belting his fifteenth home run on the season, a three-run shot.
Rather than have a heroic day at Fenway, the bullpen, namely Alfredo Aceves could not give the Sox that chance. Aceves, who has looked a little worn out lately, took over for Clayton Mortenson who put the first two men on. Andrus advanced to third thanks to a Hamilton single and was brought home on another Beltre sac fly, giving Texas the lead.
The Sox did catch a break when Nelson Cruz’s long, hit ball was deemed foul, avoiding another two-run home run and essentially giving the Sox a chance.
The bottom of the ninth provided more drama when Cody Ross doubled to left, putting the tying run in scoring position. But the veteran reliever Joe Nathan would get a pair of rookies to strike out swinging on his nasty slider to end the ball game. Both Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway bit hard on Nathan’s put away pitch, ending the game and ending any hope of a walk-off victory. You could feel the slider coming when Nathan got ahead of both kids, but the inexperience maybe showed through on this day.
The loss puts the Red Sox back to two games below the .500 mark and something must be done about Josh Beckett. He isn’t even close to being an effective starter lately and we’ll have more on that in a post tomorrow.