While billed as a battle of the aces—a rematch, in fact, of their contest earlier in the month—only one of Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander was really on Sunday, and that was Justin Verlander. Beckett put the Sox in a hole early, allowing two runs on a walk and three straight one-out hits in the first.
Somehow, though, despite having little control over any of his pitches for the rest of the game, Beckett would escape further harm. He would allow five walks, see his pitch count get quite high, and find himself in danger often enough. But at the end of six, there he was, with two earned runs.
Against most other pitchers, that would have been plenty good enough. But against Justin Verlander, it wasn’t even close. Facing none of the problems Beckett had, Verlander just didn’t let people reach base, inducing weak out after weak out. Only some tenacious at bats by the Red Sox kept him from collecting a complete game shutout, as they forced him from the game with two outs in the eighth.
Unlike the day game, however, the Tigers bullpen proved up to the task this time. With two men on base (one of the few times the Red Sox actually threatened all game), Joaquin Benoit came in after having already pitched in inning in the first game and got Dustin Pedroia to fly out to end the inning. Up next was Jose Valverde, making his second appearance of the day as well, and up against the middle of the order, no less.
Somehow, though, Valverde did a 180-degree turn from his last outing, getting two quick outs on Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis before getting some modicum of revenge on David Ortiz for his homer earlier in the game, ending the Red Sox’ hopes of a sweep once and for all.