Josh Beckett’s one-hitter gets Red Sox back into win column

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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.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves