Josh Beckett struggles early against Yankees
BOSTON -- The Yankees took it to Josh Beckett early Friday night. He struggled to place his pitches and they exploited his difficulties for four hits and five runs in the first inning.
Of Beckett's 33 pitches in the inning, only 14 were strikes: 42 percent. At one point during Raul Ibañez's at-bat, Beckett's percentage was as low as 30. When Ibañez took a called strike, the fans at Fenway Park erupted in cheers.
"I was battling myself, especially in the first inning," Beckett said after getting a no-decision in the Yankees' 10-8 victory. "In the first inning, I just wanted to throw a strike. I didn't care if they hit it."
Even when they weren't hitting, the Yankees were getting on base. Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch to load the bases three batters into the game. Beckett then walked Robinson Cano on five pitches to make it 1-0.
The first five men to come to the plate scored as the Yankees batted around. Only Russell Martin, who grounded to third, didn't have anything to show for his at-bat; everyone else had a hit, a run or an RBI, and Mark Teixeira had all three.
It was the first time Beckett had allowed five runs in an inning since Aug. 13, 2011, against the Mariners. It also marked the second time this season he gave up six runs, as he allowed Curtis Granderson's triple and Rodriguez's RBI grounder in the second inning.
"The first inning, the strike zone was very hard for him to find. Never seen him like that," Bobby Valentine said. "His changeup was squirting out of his hand. He just wasn't getting it in the first inning."
But after that inning, Beckett settled down, allowing only one run in his final four innings and striking out the side in the third. He didn't return to the mound for the sixth, but by that time, the Red Sox had a 7-6 lead and Beckett stood to be the winning pitcher. A four-run seventh by the Yankees ended that possibility, though.
"I got to locating some balls. The balls I didn't locate, they hit at guys," Beckett said of his final four innings. "In the first inning, that wasn't the way it was going."