Perhaps Josh Beckett’s thumb is a bit more of an issue than originally believed.
Beckett was just pulled from his start against the Tigers after tying a career-high by serving up five home runs. This included two homers each by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the new 3-4 combo in Detroit’s lineup. Alex Avila hit the other. The only other time Beckett had allowed five home runs in a game was August 23, 2009 against the Yankees.
All told, Beckett gave up seven runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings while walking one and striking out three. Just to put things into perspective about how bad this start was, Beckett didn’t allow more than six earned runs in any of his starts last year and it took him until June 28 to give up his fifth homer of the season.
Who knows if the bad performance had anything to do with the thumb. Weird things happen over the course of a season. But it’s worth noting that Aaron Cook tossed seven shutout innings today for Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox would have a built-in replacement if Beckett really is hurt.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.