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After Tuesday night’s unbelievable 11-10 loss to the Orioles, which featured the best bullpen in baseball surrendering an astounding 13 hits and 10 runs in two innings, the Sox needed, above all, a stout performance by staff ace Josh Beckett. Depended upon to play the role of stopper, Beckett was hit hard, giving up five earned runs—including two homers—in seven less than spectacular innings.
I, for one, expected more. But, then again, I always have.
After Josh Beckett’s great 2007 season, and absolutely dominant post-season, I thought the right-hander from Spring, Texas, was on the verge of greatness. I imagined a six or seven year run of 18 wins, 200 K’s and sub-3.00 ERAs. I thought he was this generation’s Roger Clemens. It didn’t happen. Most likely, it never will. Beckett’s reputation as a great pitcher is based upon that one great season, as well as one great game— his unforgettable performance in the sixth game of the 2003 World Series.
Now 29 years old—the apex of a baseball player’s career, according to stats guru Bill James—Beckett is, to my mind at least, maddeningly inconsistent. Entering this season, Beckett’s career ERA was 3.78. As a member of the Red Sox, he has posted ERAs of 5.01 (2006), 3.27 (2007) and 4.03 (2008). This season, after an utterly horrific April (2-2, 7.22 ERA), Beckett rebounded with a number of outstanding efforts, capped off by a fabulous June in which he allowed only 6 earned runs—all in one game!—and fashioned a 4-1 record. His ERA for the month was 1.51. He was, in a word, brilliant.
Why isn’t he always brilliant?