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Closing Time: Beckett, Red Sox belted by Blue Jays

07.20.12 at 10:12 pm ET
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The Red Sox confronted a familiar nemesis on Friday night, as Josh Beckett — in part due to some poorly located pitches, in part due to some poor luck — gave up a pair of first-inning runs (pushing the right-hander’s first-inning ERA to 10.69 for the season), and his lineup could never rebound to let him get back into the game.

Of course, that was in part because the Blue Jays rocketed the ball around the park for two more runs in the second, as the Sox found themselves in a 4-0 hole after an inning and a half en route to a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

While the Sox entered the night with the second-best winning percentage in the majors against left-handed starters (20-10, .667 prior to Friday), they were stymied by Blue Jays left-handed journeyman Aaron Laffey for the second time this season. In 13 innings against Boston, Laffey has yet to permit a run.

Aside from a three-run outburst in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a walkoff victory on Thursday night and a throwaway run in the ninth on Friday, the Red Sox have now been held scoreless in their other 16 innings over the past two nights.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Josh Beckett continued his enigmatic season. He allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in six innings. In four starts since coming off the disabled list due to shoulder inflammation, he’s 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA. Though he struck out seven for the second straight outing, he also matched a season-high with three walks. Since coming off the DL, Beckett is averaging a strikeout an inning but with an uncharacteristically high 3.9 walks per nine innings.

It was a very mixed bag for the right-hander. He got a lot of strikeouts and his changeup and fastball ended up resulting in a ton of groundballs (he permitted only one fly out), but the Blue Jays also had a handful of rockets against him, most notably a double and triple by Colby Rasmus and a double by Yunel Escobar, that put the Sox in an early and ultimately inescapable deficit.

Beckett has shown flashes of quality stuff since returning from the disabled list but he’s been inconsistent on both an outing-to-outing and inning-to-inning basis. The cause is unclear, but the reality is concerning for a Sox team that must determine between now and July 31 whether it has the reliable starters in the rotation to sustain a playoff run or if it must seek reinforcements either from within (Franklin Morales) or outside the organization. The team has a startlingly bad 6-10 record in the games he’s started.

Adrian Gonzalez went 0-for-4, his first full hitless game since June 19. He’d entered the night with hits in 23 of his 24 previous contests, the lone exception having been a game when he left after one at-bat due to illness.

— Reliever Mark Melancon saw his streak of nine straight scoreless appearances come to an end, permitting a run in his second inning of work in the ninth inning. The right-hander likewise gave up his first walks and first extra-base hits since the start of the streak, permitting two of each in his 1 1/3 innings.

Pedro Ciriaco went 0-for-3 and stranded four baserunners.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Kelly Shoppach went 2-for-3 for his fifth multi-hit game of the year.

Will Middlebrooks likewise went 2-for-4, bouncing a pair of singles through the right side.

Cody Ross made an impressive shoestring catch on a screamer to right and doubled off the runner on second.

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