Friday, August 04, 2006

See-Saw Season for Beckett

Is Josh Beckett having one of the strangest seasons you've ever seen or what? Downright dominant one outing, putrid the next. And the hallmark of all those putrid outings has been his propensity to give up home runs, many of them hit very hard and very far. Not that I know what I'm talking about, but it seems like he's at his best when he's got the curveball working and he can get hitters off balance. Then his 98 mph fastball becomes that much harder to hit. When the curve's not working, hitters just sit on the heat.

The curve wasn't working too well last night and the Indians - who have shown in the past that they like hitting off Mr. Beckett -- pounced on him for six runs in the 6th inning and held on for a 7-6 win. Beckett gave up homers to Aaron Bleeping Boone, Hafner and to "Choo, Cho, whatever his name is" - as he said in his press conference - and he has now given up a total of 31 on the season. In the last month, he's given up three homers in a game three times. He's challenging the single-season mark of 50, set by the greatest pitcher ever from Holland, Bert Blyleven, in 1986. Bert followed that up with 46 more in 1987. Yikes. Live ball era?

Meanwhile, the Yankees are hot, and their new acquistions - Abreu, Lidle, and Craig Wilson - have already made key contributions. The Yanks now lead the division by a game. They're in Baltimore tonight, while the Sox are in Tampa to tangle with the Devil Rays. They've got three in Tampa, then three in Kansas City and they need to win 4 of them.

News item: Sox have agreed in principle with the Orioles on a deal for Javy Lopez. Still not clear who the Sox are giving up, but word has it that Lopez is in Tampa right now, and could be in the lineup tonight. Javy's not the player he was, but not a bad addition under the circumstances.

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