Round two of the rivalry began as a pitcher’s duel between fire balling right handers, but ended when Josh Beckett lost his composure and imploded on the mound.
Over the first three innings, Beckett and Phil Hughes were nearly flawless. Beckett was particularly dominant, using a mid-90s fastball and breaking curve to record six strikeouts out of the first nine outs, while Hughes relied mostly on his fastball to get through the first three innings with only one walk.
The Yankees finally broke through in the 4th inning. With runners Mark Teixeira on second and Alex Rodriquez on first, Nick Swisher battled Beckett deep into the count before depositing a curve over the centerfield wall. The three run blast seemed to scare Beckett off his curveball. Although he did throw one curve to the next two batters, he only threw two more over the remainder of his outing.
Swisher’s homer not only changed Beckett’s pitch selection, but also seemed to send him off the deep end. After retiring the side in the fifth, Beckett began the 6th by giving up a double to Alex Rodriguez. Then, with first base open, he threw a pitch that hit Robinson Cano square on the left knee. The first pitch in the at bat also came inside to Cano, and in previous at bats Beckett appeared frustrated by Robbie’s constant stepping out between pitches, so you can draw your own conclusion as to intent. Earlier in the game, Beckett also flipped Francisco Cervelli for exactly the same perceived transgression, so the beaning of Cano seemed to be willful.
Even as Cano limped to first base in obvious pain, Beckett seemed disturbed by the delay. Cano would eventually leave the game on the next pitch. Beckett carried over his bravado into the next at bat against Swisher, at one point screaming at the Yankee right fielder for exaggeratedly jumping out of the way of an inside pitch. Beckett eventually struck Swisher out before intentionally walking Gardner. After that point, Beckett imploded. He walked Cervelli, gave up a hit to Winn, hit Jeter square in the back and then finished his pitiful evening by giving up run scoring hits to Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira. While Beckett unraveled and continued to buzz hitters with wayward fastballs, the Yankee dugout grew tense. Jorge Posada looked ready to burst out of the dugout, while C.C. Sabathia yelled angrily at Beckett, so much so that Joe Girardi had to calm him down.
Phil Hughes’ Pitch Breakdown By Inning
Beckett was eventually tagged for nine earned runs, which raised his ERA to 7.46 on the season. Maybe the Red Sox should have considered skipping their Friday starter too?
While Beckett was throwing his tantrum, the younger Hughes was calmly handling the Red Sox lineup. As he had done in his previous starts, Hughes began mixing in cutters and curves as he progressed into the game and wound up completing seven innings with only two runs surrendered.
It wasn’t all good news for the Yankees. In addition to the injury that knocked Cano from the game, Nick Johnson was lifted in the fifth inning because of soreness in his right wrist. While Cano is considered day-to-day with a contusion, Johnson was sent back to New York to receive an MRI. Considering Johnson’s history with injuries, particularly his wrist, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he lands on the DL. With Posada’s status still in question, another move is likely forthcoming. Either way, Girardi will have his hands full filling out his lineup card over the next few games.