Beckett a ray of sunshine for dampened Dodgers
By Jon Weisman
In general, rain is as welcome in Southern California as an eight-inning, two-run outing by Josh Beckett is welcome to the Dodgers.
The combination of the two certainly made for strange bedfellows Friday, punctuated by the Dodgers setting a modern franchise record by playing their sixth extra-inning game of April (according to my research at Baseball-Reference.com).
In the past 17 days, Dodgers have lost their past five extra-inning games, their longest streak since they lost five overtime games in a similarly shocking short stretch, from August 7-25, 2009.
Don’t blame Beckett. The righthander, coming back from season-ending injuries nearly a year ago, gave up two solo home runs in the second inning but allowed only two other baserunners, a fourth-inning single by Justin Morneau and an eighth-inning single by DJ LeMahieu. In between those last two hits, he retired 11 in a row, and when he got Charlie Blackmon to ground out to second to end the eighth inning, he had lowered his ERA to 2.45.
This was Beckett’s longest outing since losing an 8 1/3-inning complete game on April 14, 2013 and the longest outing by a Dodger this year. And Beckett did it with only 99 pitches. In his past three starts, Beckett has gone 18 innings, allowing two runs (1.00 ERA) on seven hits and seven walks with 17 strikeouts.
But what could have been a tidy, sub-3:00 victory instead extended to extra innings, with the Dodgers scoring two runs in regulation themselves — both driven home by Yasiel Puig. Puig hit a solo homer in the first inning, and then, after Dee Gordon’s remarkable infield double — yes, that’s right — Puig hit an RBI single in the third.
It’s only April, and Dodger Stadium this year has seen rain, an earthquake and a giant sheet of ice (and just barely inside the time limit on this Friday Night Fireworks night, giant sparks of light shooting in the sky). What lies ahead, one can only wonder … although signs of an approaching Clayton Kershaw are getting brighter and brighter.