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With the losses of Clay Bucholtz, Diasuke Matsusaka, and Jon Lester, the Red Sox starting rotation has gone from formidable to shaky. Both veteran pitchers (Tim Wakefield and John Lackey) and youngsters (Andrew Miller and Kyle Weiland) have been inconsistent. The one constant throughout the season has been Josh Beckett. Coming off the worst season of his career, Beckett is having arguably his best season, compiling an era of 2.12, third best in baseball.
And with a team that leads the baseball in runs scored, it would make sense for Beckett to be equally ranked as high in wins. But, in fact, Beckett is currently tied for 16th in the AL with 8 wins, one more than teammate John Lackey, despite having an ERA over 4.5 points lower.
Boston’s series with the Rays after the All-Star Break is a perfect microcosm of the Red Sox run support throughout the season. The first game, Andrew Miller gave up 7 runs in two innings and despite the offense’s best efforts to get back into the game, they lost 9-6. The next game, John Lackey nearly gave the game away in the first two innings, but was able to limit the damage to 4 runs, and the Red Sox won 9-5.
Then in the rubber game, Beckett pitched brilliantly, giving up a single hit in 8 innings. Yet somehow the Red Sox were unable to score a single run in support of Beckett, until the 16th inning taking a 1-0 win, but leaving Beckett with a no-decision.
This has been a pattern throughout the year. While the Red Sox average nearly 5.5 runs a game, for Beckett they score only 3.8, and many of those came when Beckett left the game. He has five no decisions and one loss that have come in “quality starts” (allowing no more than 3 runs in no less than 6 innings).
Oddly enough, the Sox have won all five games in which Beckett pitched well (ie. had a quality start) but ended up with a no-decision. This suggests the Red Sox may be lulled into a false sense of security when Beckett pitches, and snap out of it when he leaves. If this is the case, the Sox need to find a way to remedy this problem. Because while in the regular season poor run support may only cost Beckett the Cy Young, in the playoffs, it could cost a crucial Game 1.