For those who have loved Star Wars since the first time they saw Luke Skywalker wield a light sabre today is a slightly exciting day as the entire Star Wars saga, including those god awful prequels, come to Blu-Ray. Red Sox fans should be very familiar with the idea of fighting the Evil Empire and today should have more meaning to the Sox than being able to see a few extra features and high definition X-Wing fighters.
After losing to the Rays last night in embarrassing fashion by a count of 9-2 the Sox are now just three games up on Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race with three more games against the Rays over the weekend. The Red Sox’s postseason hopes now hang in the balance. If they cannot push last night’s game out of their heads and come out and take at least two of the next three, and here’s hoping for better, this season is done.
So it is now that we must turn to our own jedi master; Josh Beckett. Beckett has not pitched since injuring his ankle against the Toronot Blue Jays on September 5. Beckett was crusing at the time going 3.2 shutout innings while striking out six. It is that Beckett and the one who has a 12-5 record and a career low 2.49 ERA this season that must pitch tonight. The pitcher who is 7-3 in the postseason with a 3.07 ERA. Who has struckout 99 batters in 93.2 playoff appearances. The pitcher who single-handedly led the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003. The same pitcher who in the 2007 ALCS threw the Sox on his back and taught CC Sabathia how to pitch in the playoffs in the process.
Red Sox fans probably can’t imagine another pitcher they’d rather take the mound in this game. Despite the injury troubles Beckett has had this year he has shown for his five years with the Sox a fiery determination to get big outs in big games. Beckett is 4-0 against the Evil Empire this year with a 1.85 ERA. He doesn’t have more than one win against any other team in baseball, although part of that has been the lack of run support he has received in games. He knows when he has to do more than just put on a solid outing. He knows when he has to elevate his performance. There is no doubt that he knows this game is one of those games. The Sox have been cautious in bringing him back hoping to rest him for what was weeks ago a guaranteed playoff spot. Well they can’t bank on that anymore and tonight they will give him the ball hoping he can save the season. It’s amazing how much one game can matter in a regular season of 162 but that is how it is.
As David Ortiz told the Boston Heralds John Tomase; “One good outing can change everything around.” Ortiz knows a little bit about one outing or swing in his case turning a teams fortunes.
Josh Beckett is known as a great playoff pitcher. Well tonight isn’t just a regular season game. The playoffs have already begun for this Red Sox team. Tonight is Game one and Beckett must pitch like it is. He can not try to give the team a chance to win. To paraphrase master Yoda; He must do or do not because there is no try at this point in the season.