Josh Beckett struck out just one batter Friday, but he went eight innings and limited the Rays to one run as part of a 12-2 Red Sox victory in the home opener at Fenway Park.
Beckett, at 94 pitches, appeared set to go for the complete game before the Red Sox scored eight times off Joel Peralta and Josh Lueke in a long bottom of the eighth inning. That caused manager Bobby Valentine to reverse course and bring in Mark Melancon for the ninth.
Beckett wasn’t blowing the Rays away today, but he got some swings and misses early on and he was able to make quick work of what has been a weak bottom half of the order for Tampa Bay. Apart from the red-hot Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria (currently hitting back-to-back in the second and third spots), no one in the Rays lineup entered the day with an average over .250.
Beckett faced questions about his thumb injury all week after giving up five homers Saturday to the Tigers in his season debut. Those aren’t likely to go away with his velocity still down a bit. However, if he shows fastball command and his good curve (which has always tended to come and go), he can still be effective for the Red Sox while throwing 89-91 mph.
The Nationals made a handful of roster decisions on Tuesday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Pitcher Wander Suero was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and 1B/OF Matt Adams was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left index finger. With the two open roster spots, the Nationals recalled pitcher Jefry Rodriguez from Syracuse to start against the Orioles and added recently-acquired reliever Kelvin Herrera to the roster.
Adams, 29, was hit on the hand attempting to lay down a bunt on Friday. He has been quite productive for the Nationals this year, batting .275/.351/.575 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 171 plate appearances.
Adams was splitting time at first base with Mark Reynolds. Daniel Murphy drew starts at first base over the weekend, so it could be a Reynolds/Murphy split there now with Wilmer Difo remaining at second base.
In his major league debut on June 3, the 24-year-old Rodriguez pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jeremy Hellickson, who lasted just one-third of an inning. Tuesday’s start will be his first at the big league level. At Double-A Harrisburg this season, Rodriguez posted a 3.31 ERA with a 72/28 K/BB ratio in 68 innings.