For the first 2 2/3 innings of Tuesday night’s game at Fenway Park, Josh Beckett was in complete control of the Tigers. In fact, he was perfect, and it seemed as if the right-hander was well on his way to one of his better outings of the year.
But as the theme has carried on throughout Beckett’s disappointing campaign, it was not the case. After retiring the first eight Tigers in a row to start the game, Beckett wouldn’t record another out. He gave up an infield single, hit a batter and then walked a pair — the last one to force in a run — and was ultimately pulled after team doctors discovered he had a back spasm. On a rainy night at Fenway Park, boos showered on Beckett.
Luckily for Beckett, however, his teammates picked him up and caught opposing Tigers ace and reigning Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander on an off night in which he, like Beckett, struggled to command the baseball while fighting the conditions. The Red Sox offense put together a four-run outburst in the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish as the they beat the Tigers for their fourth consecutive win after the game was called due to rain in the sixth inning.
Though he allowed three walks, Clayton Mortensen relieved Beckett and pitched extremely well to help the Red Sox pull out the victory. The 27-year-old righty, called up Tuesday as roster filler after the Sox traded Matt Albers (with Craig Breslow still making his way across the country to Boston), pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs. He picked up the victory — first first of the year — and exited the game in the sixth to a standing ovation from the fans.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Red Sox, who are now two games over .500.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• Beckett started the game exceptionally sharp, retiring the Tigers side in order in the first inning and second innings. First, he struck out Austin Jackson looking before forcing Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera into fly outs. In the second, Beckett generated three consecutive fly outs.
It was Beckett’s first clean first inning (no runs, no walks) since June 30 and the second straight game he hasn’t given up a run in the first inning. With the clean inning, he improved his 2012 first-inning ERA from 10.06 to 9.50.