Beckett gets blistered

Beckett gets blistered

CLEVELAND -- The numbers sometimes tell lies, but they seemed to paint a bleak truth for Josh Beckett on a night that was likely the worst of his career.

How else to describe Thursday's performance by Beckett but humbling? In a 15-3 loss to the Indians, Beckett surrendered career highs in runs (nine) and earned runs (eight) while equaling a personal worst in home runs allowed (three).

The damage was quick and emphatic, with Beckett ending his nightmarish night after just 3 2/3 highly uneconomical (100 pitches) innings. Beckett's first loss in a Red Sox uniform is one he will try to erase from his memory bank.

"No excuse. You just have to go out and execute pitches, and if you don't do that, balls get [belted] all over the place, just like they did," said Beckett.

Nobody did more heavy hitting than Ben Broussard, who had a career night, producing two homers (including a grand slam) and driving in eight runs.

"He swung the bat and had a career night. I wish he had it against somebody else," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He got three fastballs over the middle and got his arms extended on all three and drove in, what, [eight]? That's a good night. That's a lot of damage."

Broussard (4-for-5) struck the early daggers and Victor Martinez (three-run homer in the fourth) finished Beckett off. Control was also an issue, with Beckett walking five and the Red Sox issuing 10 free passes as a team.

"Location," Beckett said. "You've got to execute pitches, and location is part of executing pitches. You've got to execute the right pitch in the right location. It just wasn't working for me. Too many walks. If you eliminate all the walks and stuff, it's probably 4-0, or four-somehing. It's just one of those nights. It was brutal. Brutal, brutal."

With three games left (at Tampa Bay) of this three-city journey, the Red Sox are 2-4.

In the final two games of this series, the Sox were outscored by a margin of 22-4.

"It's a good lineup, don't get me wrong," said Francona. "You run into nights like tonight when you don't have an answer for anything they're doing. And it just gets worse."

Beckett was seemingly in trouble from the moment his bullpen warmup session ended. With Grady Sizemore on first and two outs in the first, Beckett dug himself into a hole by walking Travis Hafner (four walks on the night) and Martinez to load the bases. The end result was unmistakably bad, as Broussard walloped a grand slam on a 96 mph heater to make it 4-0 Indians. It was the first slam Beckett has allowed in his Major League career.

Defense hurt the Sox in the second. Second baseman Mark Loretta went back for a popup in shallow right-center field and couldn't come up with it, allowing Sizemore to reach on an awkward double. Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder to short, and Alex Cora threw the ball away. The error allowed Sizemore to score and make it 5-0.

Broussard struck again in the third, belting another fastball over the wall in right, though this one was a mere solo shot.

The Red Sox did get a run back against winning pitcher Paul Byrd in the fourth on Mike Lowell's RBI double. But the Indians delivered a knockout punch on Beckett in the bottom of the fourth when Martinez stung a three-run homer to right to make it 9-1. Again, Beckett set himself up for trouble by walking back-to-back batters. Martinez's homer came on Beckett's last pitch, No. 100 on the ill-fated evening.

Things were getting so bad as the game wore on that Francona considered asking Cora to pitch. Instead, Keith Foulke took one for the team, pitching 1 1/3 innings on a night he normally would not have been used.

"The goal almost tonight is to get your pitching through it intact and not ruin the bullpen and not extend somebody too far -- and that's a real juggling act," Francona said. "I almost didn't send Foulke out for a second inning. I was going to let Cora pitch. We've got [Mike] Timlin and [Jonathan Papelbon] fresh for tomorrow, but Foulkey actually thought the inning would help him. If he had any type of a long inning, I was going to go get him."

Beckett will next take the ball on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Yankees, getting his official introduction to one of the fiercest rivalries in sports.

"If you fall of a horse, you've got to get back on," Beckett said. "You've got to forget about it. You can't live in the past. You can't change what's already happened. That's what we work on as pitchers. The most important pitch you throw is your next one. There's no excuse for tonight. It will stick in my mind for a couple days and then I've got to forget about it, because I got to go face the Yankees."

And one clear silver lining for Beckett going into that one is that he's likely gotten his worst effort out of his system.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.