You can't ask for much more from Josh Beckett. The starting pitching as a whole has been good lately. But the inconsistent Sox offense has once again cooled off. The Orioles have won their 7th straight game in Fenway Park, and that's simply shameful.
The reason the Sox are so streaky as a team is because they're streaky as units and as individuals. Incisive analysis, I know. When one aspect of this team struggles, though, it struggles big time. When the starters stink, they barely make the 5th inning. When the offense isn't hitting, they struggle to get 2 runs across the plate.
Look at a guy like Beckett. Brilliant one week, mediocre the next, crappy the next. And this lineup has been carried by role-player types, like Aviles, Ross, and Saltalamacchia. They can't go 2 for 4 every night. Not having Ellsbury hurts. Gonzalez just hurts.
The Sox offense is very good at piling on runs when a pitcher is struggling, and getting big innings. But when a pitcher is having a good night, the Sox will struggle just to get on base. And bunting isn't the answer. Neither are stolen bases. The Sox can't afford to use outs to get runners in scoring position. Then they have fewer outs/chances to knock those runners in. And they have a much smaller chance at scoring multiple runs in an inning.
On the bright side, Beckett pitched well. He went 8 and only allowed 2 runs off 5 hits. He didn't walk anyone. He struck out 5. Since being shelled on May 10th, he's gone 7+ in five straight starts. His record is 2-2 in those starts, but his ERA is 2.21. You can't ask for more from him, only that he keeps up the good work. Which has been an issue for him over the course of his career.
Darnell McDonald returned to the lineup, and was 1 for 2 with a double and a sacrifice bunt. I don't like small ball tactics. Runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and the Sox give the O's an out. Byrd struck out after that, and Aviles popped out.
It was such a Bobby Valentine thing to do. And I won't say it cost the Sox the game, because it didn't. Their inability to get any hits cost them the game. But Valentine can't help but do something to influence the game. He's compelled to attempt to exert control over it. He can't just sit back and let it happen. Giving free outs to an opponent isn't how to break out of a slump (which is when you're already giving opponents too many easy outs). It only makes scoring harder.
The Sox are back at .500, and back in 5th place. It was nice to be over .500 for 9 days.
They need another good start from Buchholz tonight. He faces Brian Matusz. Matusz struggled in April. But in his last five starts he's 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA. One of those wins came against the Sox.