Already one of the AL’s Cy Young favorites, Josh Beckett had his best start yet in 2011 on Wednesday night, throwing a one-hitter as Boston beat Tampa Bay 3-0.
The Rays’ lone hit was a Reid Brignac single in the third. Beckett retired the other 27 hitters he faced, striking out six of them.
It was the fifth career shutout for Beckett, who has never really flirted with a no-hitter. The fewest hits he had ever allowed previously in a complete game was three and he had done that just once.
Beckett moved to 6-2 with a 1.88 ERA for the season. Jered Weaver had barely overtaken him for the major league-ERA lead going into this one; both were at 2.06, but Weaver’s mark was slightly better.
A Kevin Youkilis homer off Jeremy Hellickson in the seventh inning supplied all of the scoring for the Red Sox in the game. Hellickson, a Rookie of the Year candidate, fell to 7-5 with a 3.09 ERA.
The Red Sox defeated the Rays for the first time in four tries this season. On Tuesday, the Rays halted Boston’s nine-game winning streak behind James Shields’ shutout.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.