Thursday, October 4, 2007
Big Game Beckett
Some guys just have it. Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Roger Federer, those guys just know how to rise above the fray in the biggest moments and bring home the proverbial bacon. Well you can go ahead and add another name to that ultra-clutch list, and his name is Josh Beckett.
Wednesday night Beckett spun another post-season web, shutting down and shutting out an Angels team that ranked in the top-5 in hits, runs, batting average and on-base percentage in the AL this season.
The shutout was the third of Beckett's career in what now is his fourth post-season series. In the history of the Red Sox there have only been six playoff shutouts, and Beckett now owns one of them.
The one series he didn't record a shut out in? The 2003 NLDS against my beloved Giants where he gave up all of one earned run and actually lost his only start.
That happened to be his first ever post-season start, so I'm willing to forgive him. Since then Beckett has pitched in six more playoff games, giving up more than two earned runs exactly once and recording those three shutouts.
What's even more impressive than just the numbers is the circumstances under which Beckett seems to be able to call upon his best stuff. In 2003, with the Marlins trailing the Cubs 3-1 in the NLCS, it was Beckett who tossed a two-hit shutout that included 11 strikeouts and just one walk.
That performance (and a little help from some guy named Bartman) catapulted the Marlins to a 4-3 series win. And just for good measure Beckett came back on two days rest and recorded a hold in game seven.
His next gem would come in the 2003 World Series where he famously stymied the big bad Yankees, twirling a five-hit shutout and giving the Marlins their second World Series title.
So fast-forward to Wednesday night and should we really be surprised that an older, wiser and healthier Josh Beckett absolutely dominated a very talented Angels club? I think not.
The real treat for a guy like me who loves pitching is that Beckett should get a lot more opportunities to show just how great he is with a winning team like the Red Sox. The Boston faithful gave Roger Clemens the nickname "The Rocket". Let me be the first to anoint Beckett as simply "Big Game".