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Groundhog day and ‘same [expletive] results’ in a loss for Josh Beckett

08.20.12 at 12:18 am ET

NEW YORK — Josh Beckett had one of his better curveballs of the season. Didn’t matter. He had his most strikeouts in roughly a month. Didn’t matter. For the first time in four starts, he pitched six complete innings. Didn’t matter.

The right-hander was uninterested in discussing his stuff or any moral victories from his start on Sunday night, a six-inning, four-run effort in which he punched out six, walked three and stifled much of the Yankees lineup only to have his night undone by Derek Jeter (who collected a pair of doubles off Beckett and scored two runs) and Ichiro Suzuki (who launched two solo homers). This is a bottom-line time of year as the Red Sox become an increasingly desperate team, and so there was little but self-flagellation to deliver after the Sox suffered a 4-1 loss to the Yankees in which Beckett dropped to 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA.

“Work in progress I guess. Still [expletive] results,” Beckett said of his outing. “Some things were better today, but same [expletive] results.”

In his last six starts, Beckett is now 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA. It is his second streak of six starts without a win this year. More recently, he has been coming up short due to a preponderance of home runs permitted. He’s given up at least two homers in each of his last three outings (tied for the second-longest streak of multi-homer yields of his career).

Prior to the game, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he believed that Beckett — along with teammates Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz — could remain foundational members of the rotation for the rest of 2012 and beyond. Beckett, of course, is under contract through 2014.

“It’s no secret. Our starting pitching has not been as good as it needs to be if you look at the entirety of the season so far,” said Cherington. “Part of improving it has been to get our guys get back close to where they’ve been in the past. Those are key guys. If there’s other ways to improve it this offseason, we’ll look at that, but there’s a lot of performance upside with the guys here, without adding anything to it. So it’s our job to help those guys, get the most out of them. I know it won’t be any lack of effort on their part.

“I think that there’s been a lot of focus on [Beckett and Lester] as a sort of core reason for our underperformance. They would both tell you that they’re not having the years that they’d like to have. But they’ve both, for the most part, gone out, taken the ball every fifth day. Josh has missed a couple, but they’ve taken the ball every fifth day, competed, for the most part kept us in games, they’ve both had a couple where it’s gotten away from them. Even really good pitchers are not going to have the same high-level performance every year. It just so happens that both guys are having a little bit of a down year this year. I know both those guys have been on the mound for some of the most important games in our good times. I believe they’re capable of doing that again. I know they’re working on it, they care.”

Beckett, under contract through 2014, was apprised of those remarks. Asked if he, too, felt that he could be a key contributor to the Red Sox rotation going forward, Beckett had little to say.

“That’s great. I like that he believes in me,” Beckett said of Cherington’s remarks. “That’s not my decision.”

Beckett, who has seen the Sox go 7-14 in his 21 starts, did suggest that he is at least physically in a position to work to improve.

“Gotta keep working. The good thing I have right now is health and you move forward with that,” he said.

Still, time is running out for that to have any relevance to the Red Sox’ ambitions in 2012. With 40 games remaining and the Sox stuck at 59-63, the field of contenders is disappearing on the horizon from the Red Sox. What lies ahead of the team is thus daunting, a fact that Beckett said the team cannot allow to consume it.

“I think we’ve just got to go play one game at a time. We can’t worry about that stuff,” he said. “We need a lot of things to happen now. We’ve got play better and we’ve got to have some teams fall down.”

Read More: ben cherington, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett,
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