Shoppach, Beckett forming a working tandem

Shoppach, Beckett forming a working tandem

Shoppach, Beckett forming a working tandem
CHICAGO -- When the season started, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn't sound like a big fan of catcher-pitcher pairings. However, one appears to be developing on his team.

Sunday marked the fourth straight Josh Beckett start in which Kelly Shoppach was the man behind the plate.

"Actually, it's his birthday," Valentine said of Shoppach, who turned 32 on Sunday. "I like playing players on birthdays."

For many years, Beckett worked with Jason Varitek in nearly every start.

In Beckett's first start of the season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught him. That game didn't go well, as Beckett was tagged for seven runs -- including five homers -- over 4 2/3 innings.

But the last four times out with Shoppach, Beckett is 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA. After allowing three runs on three hits in the first inning of Sunday's 4-1 loss, Beckett gave up three hits over the next 5 2/3 innings. He finished with eight strikeouts and three walks over 6 2/3 innings.

Still, Valentine didn't want to make any commitments.

"I like all the pairings," said Valentine. "The way it looks right now, it looks like our catchers and pitchers are working very well together. Matter of fact, I can't think of a better caught game than Salty did yesterday. Worked in 21 changeups for Jon Lester. I haven't seen that since I've been managing, and he had swings and misses on changeups. Never let Jon get out of the game plan. It was very, very good."

But how about Beckett and Shoppach?

"With Beckett and Kelly, they have a little something going," Valentine said. "I'm not writing home about it yet."