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If there were any remaining doubts about Josh Beckett returning to form in 2011, the big right-hander did everything he could to put them to rest. In his best start of the season, and possibly in a Red Sox uniform, Beckett pitched brilliantly against the Tampa Bay Rays for nine innings, allowing just one weakly hit ground ball as the Red Sox won 3-0.
In a true pitcher’s duel, Becket was matched by his Tampa rival Jeremy Hellickson for most of the game. In the end, Hellickson gave up four hits, including the damaging three-run homer to Kevin Youkilis. As we’ve seen in the past, the Red Sox bats came alive for a big inning after being quieted by brilliant pitching up to that point.
Joe Maddon, known for his strategy, was dealt a hand he simply couldn’t win with. After Hellickson gave up a triple to Dustin Pedroia, Madden decided to intentionally walk Adrian Gonzalez to face Kevin Youkilis, and hopefully induce a double play. Given how hot Gonzalez has been, and how slow he runs, it’s hard to blame Madden for the result: a towering blast by Youkilis providing all the offense Josh Beckett would need to walk away with the victory.
Beckett was lights out against the Rays in a way we haven’t seen possibly since the 2007 ALCS. Finally healthy, Beckett has simply overmatched teams this year.
It was another tough night at the plate for Drew. He’s really scuffling right now and has hit just .225/.325/.331 on the season. The streaky right-fielder still is brining quality defense, but his at bats are difficult to watch right now.
W: Beckett (6-2)
L: Hellickson (7-5)