As luck would have it, the Red Sox badly need Beckett to serve as a stopper.
Beckett will try to help Boston and its rotation recover from a dreadful opening series Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game set at the Cleveland Indians.
The opening-day starter for the Red Sox in each of the last two seasons, Beckett’s fortunes plummeted in 2010. The right-hander, who won all four of his postseason starts - two against the Indians - to help lead the Red Sox to the 2007 World Series title, didn’t display close to that form last season, posting a career-worst 5.78 ERA and a 6-6 record while being limited to 21 starts due to back problems.
As a result, the man who was once the rock of Boston’s rotation now stands as perhaps its biggest question mark.
“I think his pride took a beating last year,” manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox’s official website. “I definitely agree with that. I think he feels like he has a lot to prove.”
Those sentiments could apply to the entire Red Sox team after the beating they took in Texas over the weekend. Starters Jon Lester(notes), John Lackey(notes) and Clay Buchholz(notes) gave up 18 runs over 15 1-3 innings as Boston got outscored 26-11 and allowed 11 home runs in a three-game sweep.
The Red Sox are now 0-3 for the first time since 1996, when they also dropped their first three games at the Rangers en route to an 0-5 start.
“We got outplayed all the way around,” Francona said. “They hit better than us, they pitched better than us. Now we’ve got to regroup and get us a win so we can feel better about ourselves.”
Offseason acquisition Carl Crawford(notes) left Arlington with some reason to feel good about himself, picking up two hits in Sunday’s series finale - a 5-1 loss - after going 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in his first two games in a Boston uniform.
Crawford is a .263 career hitter versus Cleveland - his third-lowest mark against an AL opponent.
The Indians (1-2) know what it’s like to open a season in horrid fashion in Texas. They got outscored 29-14 while dropping their first three games in Arlington two years ago.
Cleveland was in danger of another season-opening sweep, but salvaged the finale of a three-game home set with the Chicago White Sox by winning 7-1 on Sunday.
Former Red Sox right-hander Justin Masterson(notes) pitched seven solid innings to stem the tide for a staff that had given up 23 runs and 29 hits in its first two games. The highlight of the win came in the fourth inning when the Indians turned a triple play, started by regular catcher Carlos Santana(notes) in his first career game at first base.
“You don’t win or lose a division in the first week or even the first month,” said second baseman Orlando Cabrera(notes), who assisted on the triple play. “But getting that first win is always huge. The triple play got us going.”
Cabrera went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer Sunday while Santana had a pair of singles to complete a 6-for-13 opening series.
The Indians will send Josh Tomlin(notes) to the mound for the series opener. Cleveland summoned the right-hander to make his major league debut last July, and he wound up going 6-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 12 starts.
Tomlin’s first loss came at Boston on Aug. 5, when he allowed four runs in seven innings of a 6-2 defeat.