Then, as Beckett would say later, "The wheels just fell off."
It was definitely a tale of two nights for the right-hander. In all, he struck out eight and didn't walk a batter. But the overall line -- five innings, six hits, four runs - wound up being less than spectacular.
"We kind of went away from my curveball," said Beckett. "Some balls fell in that maybe sometimes are caught. All in all, it was good. [Jason Varitek] and I worked unbelievable together through the first 4 2/3."
Francona agreed that Beckett became too fastball-reliant once he got in trouble.
"Again, when it started going south a little bit, having something slower that had a different plain to it might have gotten him out of that," Francona said.
As much as Monday's off-day -- the only one for the Red Sox during Spring Training -- was appreciated by Beckett, it might have had something to do with his decline late in Tuesday's outing.
"I didn't feel real strong coming in because I didn't do anything yesterday, no long toss," said Beckett. Maybe it was one of those deals, fatigue or something from not doing the stuff that I usually do the day before I pitch. But I definitely needed that day off. One day off during Spring Training, you're going to take it and do something that you want to do."
This has been a good spring for Beckett. Unlike last year, when he came in with all the scrutiny that comes with being the new guy, he's been able to blend in and get his work done.
He'll likely take the ball in Game 2 of the regular season after ace Curt Schilling.
"I feel great," Beckett said. "The key for everybody is to get out of Spring Training healthy."
As for the curve that he regretted abandoning late in Tuesday's outing, Beckett is pleased with the progress. It is a pitch he didn't command last year like he's done in previous years. But Beckett almost feels as if he has rediscovered an old friend.
"It was really good today," said Beckett. "I threw them for strikes when I wanted to throw them for strikes and I threw them for balls when I wanted to throw them for balls. That was something that I struggled with two starts ago, throwing it for a ball when I wanted to throw it for a ball."