Red Sox ALCS: Josh Beckett recalls his own heroics ahead of Game 6

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images) /

Former Red Sox ace Josh Beckett recalls his own Game 6 experience

The Red Sox are back in Houston with their backs against the wall, but that’s not a scenario they’re unfamiliar with. In the history of the organization, Boston has found themselves in six previous ALCS Game 6’s, and they’re a perfect 6-0. Alex Cora will be trotting out his ace, Nathan Eovaldi, but it was a former ace that was sharing his experiences in the situation.

Former Red Sox righty Josh Beckett spoke with WEEI’s Rob Bradford ahead of Boston’s Game 6 clash with the Houston Astros. The righthander is more than familiar with what the club is staring down as he himself was tasked with saving the club’s postseason hopes all the way back in 2008. Thirteen years ago, the Sox found themselves on the road for the final two games of the ALCS, needing to win Game 6 to stay alive.

"“The one I’m most proud is probably the five innings in Tampa,” Beckett told by phone, reflecting on his 13 career postseason starts. “That was my last start of the season, I hated to admit that. But there was no (expletive) way I could do that again, but knew I had to do that to get to the World Series. That was the one I’m most proud of.”"

It’s no surprise that Beckett is as proud of that outing as he is due to the fact that he had a torn intercostal muscle in his rib, not fun for a guy chucking some heat. Even if the Red Sox had won the ALCS in 2008 it was clear that they’d be heading to the World Series without their ace, so he left it all on the mound. Much like Chris Sale on Wednesday, he left his nuts out there.

Beckett would go on to talk about the need to change his arm angle in order to lessen the pain and that any time he’d go more vertical it’d be excruciating. He pointed out that his goal that night is a lot like it is for starters in 2021, just get through as much as you can before the bullpen phone starts ringing. We’ve seen it from Alex Cora plenty during his Red Sox tenure, if he feels a guy doesn’t have it, he’ll pull ’em, that’s not how it was back in Beckett’s day.

"“Now, they will yank him out before they even get a chance. Tito wasn’t going to take me out. There was a reason I was starting that game and everybody else was in the bullpen. I was hurt in 2008, but he knew I was probably better than a lot of the other options to start the game. Tito is like, ‘You’re giving us our best option.’”"

While we saw Cora stray from that game plan with Sale on the mound on Wednesday, it would come back to bite the Red Sox as the southpaw was left on the mound a bit too long. On that night, Terry Francona made sure it was clear that the team would be riding with the right-hander for as long as his body would allow it.

That season wasn’t as sweet as the year prior for either the righty or Boston as it’s hard to follow up a World Series championship and a second-place Cy Young finish. In 2008, he’d go 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA, and 1.187 WHIP in 174.1 innings of work. Interestingly enough, while most of his stats were worse in that season, he maintained his 1.8 BB/9 from the year before while improving his K/9 from an 8.7 to an 8.9.

The ALCS didn’t go Boston’s way in 2008 as they’d fall in Game 7 to the Rays, something the 2021 squad would love to avoid repeating against Houston. If Eovaldi can mimic what Beckett was able to do back in 2008, I have a good feeling we’ll be seeing a Game 7 at Minute Maid Park. With a pretty damn good record in Game 6’s and their best pitcher on the mound, I think it’s an extra boost of confidence to hear from a former ace who’s been in those shoes.

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