Josh Beckett is finally starting to look like the pitcher that was the World Series MVP last year.
Beckett, a 6-foot-5 hard-throwing right-hander, was brilliant in leading the Marlins to their second championship since 1997, posting a 1.10 ERA in two starts against the New York Yankees in last year’s World Series.
However, he has struggled through health problems and inconsistency this season. Still heralded as a potential 20-game winner, Beckett is just 4-7 in 16 starts and has not won since a 6-2 victory over Houston on May 20.
The 24-year-old right-hander strained a side muscle in June, and had a blister problem on the middle finger of his pitching hand that sent him to the disabled list May 31 and again July 6. Though he’s managed to stay healthy over his last four starts, it wasn’t until Tuesday’s outing against St. Louis that Beckett finally starting showing his form from last year.
Beckett held the Cardinals hitless through 5 2-3 innings before surrendering a home run to Albert Pujols. It was the only hit he allowed while striking out five over six innings. St. Louis went on to win 2-1 in 10 innings.
“That was the Beckett we’d hope to see,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “He pitched extremely well.”
Beckett was less impressed with his performance and exasperated with the Marlins’ struggles overall.
“We’ve got to win some games. We can’t keep marching along through the season thinking what happened last year is going to happen,” said Beckett, who is 0-4 with a 5.52 ERA over his last seven starts. “We definitely have to have some urgency around here if we want to make it back to the postseason.”
The Marlins held a team meeting before Saturday’s game and then went on to rout the Brewers 11-1. Jeff Conine hit his third grand slam of the season, and Paul Lo Duca and Miguel Cabrera each drove in two runs for the Marlins, who pounded out 12 hits in their largest margin of victory of the season.
Florida had lost four of five, scoring just five runs in the losses.
“Time’s running out,” said Conine, who had his eighth career slam and second this season against the Brewers. “We’re behind. We’ve got to put together a good run here to get close. That’s why you have meetings. You have to motivate players.”
Wes Helms had two hits, including an RBI double for Milwaukee, which is 9-20 since the All-Star break.