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 Yankees and Red Sox will play on artificial turf in London

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Major League Baseball wants to give the United Kingdom a taste of America’s pastime when the Yankees and Red Sox visit next month. Based on the playing surface they’re going to use, however, they may as well have sent the Blue Jays and the Rays:

Major League Baseball has access to Olympic Stadium for 21 days before the games on June 29 and 30, the sport’s first regular-season contests in Europe, and just five days after to clear out. The league concluded that there was not enough time to install real grass.

Starting June 6, gravel will be placed over the covering protecting West Ham’s grass soccer pitch and the running track that is a legacy from the 2012 Olympics. The artificial turf baseball field, similar to modern surfaces used by a few big league clubs, will be installed atop that.

At least they will not use the old-style sliding pits/turf infield that you used to always see. That’ll all be dirt. There are comments in the article about how it’s a cost savings too since they’re going back next year and won’t have to bulldoze and re-grow grass. Aaron Boone and Xander Bogaerts were asked and they don’t seem to care since it’s similar to the surface they play on in Toronto or down in Florida against the Rays.

Still, this whole deal is not aimed at doing whatever is minimally necessary to pull off a ballgame. It’s supposed to be a showcase on a global stage in a world capital. I have no idea how anyone thinks that doing that on a surface everyone has decided is obsolete for baseball playing purposes unless the ballpark is either outdated or in an arid environment is a good idea.

It’s certainly not baseball putting its best foot forward. Major League Baseball could’ve avoided this by choosing a different venue or even building a temporary one like MLB has done on a few occasions in the past. That, I suppose, would limit the revenue-generation capacity of these games, however, that’s off the table in the Rob Manfred Era.

Yankees and Red Sox on turf. What a decision.