Josh Beckett gives up mammoth homer, takes loss in Dodgers debut

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Josh Beckett was rudely welcomed back to the National League on Monday, getting lit up by very first batter he faced, Tyler Colvin, on his way to taking a loss to the Rockies.

Colvin launched an 0-1 fastball off the facing of the upper deck (here’s the video) to get the Rockies off on the right foot tonight. They went on to win 10-0, knocking the Dodgers 2 1/2 games behind the idle Giants in the NL West.

Making his first start for the Dodgers after Saturday’s big trade with the Red Sox, Beckett ended up allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings. He retired six in a row after the homer, notching three of his six strikeouts in the sequence. The Rockies didn’t get to him again until the fourth, when Chris Nelson tripled and was singled in by D.J. LeMahieu.

The third run came in the sixth, courtesy of singles from Nelson, Jonathan Herrera and pinch-hitter Johnny Rutledge. Rutledge’s hit scored Nelson and resulted in Beckett’s removal.

Jeff Francis got the win for Colorado after throwing five scoreless innings. The Beckett-Francis duel was actually a rematch of Game 1 of the 2007 World Series between Boston and Colorado, which the Red Sox won 13-1.

Beckett has now allowed eight homers in four starts this month after going 12 straight starts from May 15-July 31 without giving up any. He’s 0-5 in his last seven starts and 5-12 with a 5.21 ERA in 133 innings for the season.

Fortunately, the Dodgers weren’t counting on Beckett to be a savior. With his velocity down, it’s doubtful that he’ll return to 2011 form at any point during the season. Still, he should be an upgrade over Joe Blanton at the back of the rotation, and he’ll be a reasonable option as a third or fourth starter come playoff time, should the Dodgers advance.

Beckett is slated to make his home debut for the Dodgers against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. After that, he’ll get a road test against the Giants.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.