With their starting rotation in turmoil, the Boston Red Sox are hoping their ace can bring some stability - and a third straight victory.
While Josh Beckett awaits the outcome on an appeal of his suspension, the right-hander will try to shut down the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night as the Red Sox try to build on their huge comeback in the series opener.
But the league reviewed the play and suspended Beckett for six games. The pitcher, who said the location of the throw was unintentional, immediately appealed and will make his normal start as he awaits a ruling.
“We were pretty shocked,” Beckett said. “I think the appeal speaks for everything that we feel. I respect the job they have to do, but I don’t agree.”
The Red Sox (4-6) can ill afford problems with another top starter. Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the disabled list this week, and Jon Lester has lost his first two decisions, with both contributing to Boston’s slow start.
After striking out 10 in a stellar opening-day start at home, Beckett (1-1, 3.46 ERA) also had problems during Sunday’s eventful outing in California, allowing four runs in six innings of Boston’s 5-4 loss.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Boston manager Terry Francona told the team’s official Web site. “A couple of ground balls found holes in the three-run (third) inning.”
Adding to the team’s issues, Brad Penny gave up eight runs in three-plus innings Friday, but the Red Sox erased a 7-0 second-inning deficit to earn a 10-8 win in the opener of the four-game set.
Boston’s bullpen has already provided help to the beleaguered rotation, pitching six shutout innings Friday to lower its ERA to 3.06. Red Sox relievers allowed one run in 10 2-3 innings after Matsuzaka’s injury Tuesday in a loss to Oakland.
Now, Boston’s offense is starting to chip in. After the Red Sox snapped a three-game slide with Wednesday’s 8-2 win over the A’s, they continued to break out of an early slump against the Orioles.
“We have the ability to have two or three guys not on their games and still score a lot of runs,” Bay said.
Facing Adam Eaton (0-1, 9.00) doesn’t figure to slow down Boston’s bats, as Eaton will make his second start after struggling in his Orioles debut Sunday.
He gave up eight hits and four runs while throwing 100 pitches in four innings of an 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
“I wasn’t laboring. Laboring is when you’re kind of struggling with stuff,” said Eaton, who had a 6.10 ERA the past two seasons with Philadelphia. “For the most part, I had everything going.”
The Orioles (6-4), who’ve lost six straight at Fenway Park, have totaled 31 runs in their last four games. Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are all hitting at least .359, and Markakis hit a grand slam on Friday.
But Baltimore’s woeful pitching ranks near the bottom in the majors with a 6.47 team ERA. Opponents are hitting .369 in the Orioles’ last five games, and the team has now lost back-to-back contests for the first time this year.