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Beckett, Bard give Red Sox reason to believe

Posted on: September 16, 2011 10:43 pm
 
BOSTON -- If Thursday was about reasons to believe for the Rays, Friday was about reasons to believe for the Red Sox.

Reason No. 1: Josh Beckett, back after missing a start with an ankle injury, gave up just two earned runs in six excruciating but encouraging innings.

Reason No. 2: Daniel Bard, back after losing each of his last three appearances, struck out three in a much, much better eighth inning.

Reason No. 3: A 4-3 Red Sox win over the Rays that extended Boston's lead back to four games in the American League wild-card race, with now just 12 games left on the schedule (and just two more head-to-head meetings).

Now, no matter how much belief the Rays have, they basically need to win both Saturday and Sunday to have any realistic chance at catching the Red Sox. And even that might not be enough.

Short-term, that's the most important Red Sox development from Friday night. Long-term, it's Beckett and Bard that are crucial for the Red Sox to believe they have any chance in the playoffs.

Without Beckett to team with Jon Lester atop the rotation, the Red Sox have who -- maybe John Lackey and his 6.19 ERA? -- as a No. 2 starter. Without Bard, the Red Sox have questions about the back end of their bullpen.

Beckett allowed a two-run first-inning home run to Evan Longoria, but beyond that he gave up just an unearned run in the third. More than that, the ankle didn't seem to be a problem.

Bard got a break on a disputed call for his first strikeout, but after a one-out walk he fanned the next two batters impressively.

Friday wasn't perfect for either Beckett or Bard, but at least Friday gave them -- and the Red Sox and their fans -- some reason to believe.


Category: MLB
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