Who knows how it really happened, but Josh Beckett turned in one of his best performances in recent years last week against the Yankees.
After allowing three runs over five innings against the Indians in his first start, Beckett made the Yankees look like, well, the Indians on Sunday. He struck out 10 over eight innings, while allowing just two hits, no runs and one walk.
Vintage Josh Beckett. And "vintage" really means 2007, when Beckett came out behind Cleveland's CC Sabathia in the AL Cy Young race. Which was wrong, by the way. Everyone remembers Beckett from 2007 and his greatness. But, in actuality, Sunday's start was better than anything he did in 2007 -- and almost his entire career.
In 2007, Beckett was consistently very good. He was rarely flat-out amazing, like he was on Sunday. He only pitched one game in 2007 in which he allowed no runs. That was a six-inning affair with Atlanta in June.
His best game in 2007, arguably, came against the Indians in a loss in July. Beckett went eight innings, allowing four hits, one run, no walks and he struck out seven.
Sunday's effort was certainly one to remember for Beckett. The GameScore rated out to an 87 -- the second highest in the majors this season. And his win probability came in at .537, showing how much he contributed to the tight win.
A couple of Beckett's games with the Sox can challenge those numbers. In 2009, Beckett racked up a GameScore of 88 against the Royals in July. It was a complete-game effort, as he allowed three hits, no runs, no walks and struck out seven in the 6-0 win.
Beckett's greatest contribution to win probability came in 2006. Against the Royals again, in July, he worked eight innings and allowed four hits, no runs, no walks and struck out seven in the 1-0 win.
The stats are a tad better, of course, but it's easy to argue Sunday was really the best of Beckett's Red Sox career.
Consider the other games of note: Beckett faced the Royals, a notoriously bad club that is rarely in contention in the AL Central. (Rarely is an overstatement. The Royals haven't won the division since 1985 and haven't finished second since 1995.)
But Sunday was against the Yankees, the Evil Empire. The biggest rivalry in sports and Beckett dominated on the hill. Sure, the rivalry may not be what it used to be, but holding the Yankees scoreless over eight innings, whether it be in 2011 or 1911, is something special.
Don't forget, either, the Red Sox certainly were not 1-7 when they played the Royals those years.
RED SOX-YANKEES, THE FIRST TIME
I made my way to Fenway on Saturday thanks to a wonderful birthday gift. This shocks some people, but it was my first Red Sox-Yankees game. Yes, ever. Not just this season.
Going to a Red Sox-Yankees game has always been high on my to-do list. This game, though, seemed like it was lacking something.
Of course, the Red Sox lost. It wasn't the prettiest game for the Sox, although we did see some fantastic defensive efforts. Even despite the loss, it seems like the game was missing something. Is the Sox-Yankees rivalry dying?
I'm not quite set on saying that. The fact the Sox had one win going into this game most likely played a factor. And, also, the Yankees taking the first lead played a part, too.
But what if the Red Sox made a big comeback? Any big comeback would be great, no matter who the Sox are playing, but I think the "feeling" of the rivalry would have been there. From the fans to the players, it would have surfaced.
Of course, we don't need to worry about leads if the Sox actually start playing above .500 ball. That will take some time, but whenever the Sox and Yankees are tight in the standings and they play is good for the rivalry.
That'll happen this season.
It must be hard to be Daisuke Matsuzaka right now.
Sox fans are calling for his head. They're saying trade him, cut him, hand him off at someone's doorstep. Whatever it takes, get rid of Dice-K because he's not doing anything for the Sox.
Meanwhile, after the disaster in Japan, his head can't be in the right place. Matsuzaka is very concerned about his homeland and if it's not something he's thinking about every minute of the day, I'd be shocked.
All of that affects his stat line: seven innings, 10 runs, five walks and three home runs in two games.
I'm not sure what's going to happen with Dice-K this season, but there's no doubt Red Sox management is trying to figure out how to make him perform. Unfortunately, it's not just on the field stuff Dice-K has to worry about. And Curt Young can't fix that.