04/10/07 7:31 PM ET
Beckett keeps his focus early on
Right-hander holds Mariners at bay in Sox slugfest
By Mike Petraglia / Special to MLB.com
While every pitcher will gladly take the 14 runs of support every time out, the biggest challenge in a game like Tuesday's one-sided slugfest can be maintaining focus.
Such wasn't the case early on in Boston's 14-3 win over Seattle, even though the right-hander had to sit for more than 20 minutes in the bottom of the first while his team was busy staking him to a four-run lead. He came out and promptly retired the side in order in the second and he was off and running.
"It's always big to have shutdown innings," Beckett said. "Whenever you get four runs and you're sitting there and everybody's kind of getting cold, it's nice to go out there and get a fairly quick 1-2-3 inning."
The only hiccup of his day came in the third, after his offense provided three more runs in the bottom of the second. Kenji Johjima singled off the Green Monster warning track. Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a double down the right-field line. With runners on second and third and none out, Beckett did some of his best pitching of the day.
Following a Jose Lopez groundout to second that produced the only run he allowed, Beckett struck out Ichiro Suzuki for the second time before getting Adrian Beltre to fly out to center.
"You've got to go out and throw strikes," added Beckett, who has won his first two starts for three straight seasons. "You're pitching to contact. You've got a big lead like that, you're up 10-0 or 10-1, you don't want to nibble. You're probably cutting the plate in half and just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of them, and make them hit one of the first three or four pitches you throw, and keep the bullpen out of the game for as long as possible.
"I was very impressed," said skipper Terry Francona, who watched as his starter needed only 84 pitches (61 strikes) to get through seven innings. "I thought he pitched a very good ballgame from start to finish. It's obviously nice to get runs but I thought he stayed with his game plan and didn't waver from that or let the score sway his concentration at all."
Beckett came out after seven innings, allowing just the two fourth-inning hits and one run. He struck out eight and walked none.
"He was able to make adjustments and get used to the conditions and really utilize all his pitches, his four-seamer, his sinker, his changeup and his curveball," said catcher Jason Varitek.
"We kind of pulled out the whuppin' stick a little bit today," Beckett said. "Them being off for a little while I think definitely affected their pitchers [in terms] of being able to throw strikes."
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.