|Red Sox starter Josh Beckett matched a career high by throwing 126 pitches Sunday. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)|
Counting on these pitchers
Beckett , Lester kept firing away
CHICAGO - Jon Lester threw 122 pitches for the Red Sox Saturday night, eight shy of his career high. Josh Beckett threw 126 pitches Sunday, matching his career high in a 4-1 loss against the White Sox.
If that seems unusual, that’s because it was. The Red Sox haven’t had two starters throw that many pitches in consecutive games since a doubleheader in Cleveland in 1998 when Pedro Martinez threw 127 pitches in the first game and Tim Wakefield 124 in the second.
Manager Bobby Valentine said he stretched the two starters a bit because the team has a day off Thursday and everybody will get an extra day of rest. Lester is not scheduled to start until Friday and Beckett Saturday.
“I wasn’t really paying too much attention to it,’’ said Beckett, who hadn’t thrown that many pitches since May 20, 2004, when he was with the Marlins.
It was the last batter that ran his count up as Beckett threw 12 pitches to Brent Lillibridge in the seventh inning before walking him.
Beckett threw 125 pitches against the Angels last April 21. He had an extra day of rest before his next start but was pulled after six innings and 92 pitches. He allowed four runs in that game against the Orioles.
“It can be cumulative sometimes,’’ Beckett said. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. But we’ll see.’’
Unprompted, Valentine had pregame praise for Dustin Pedroia.
“During this little road trip here, Dustin has played great defense,’’ Valentine said. “Every day he comes up with a big play or two or three. He’s special.’’
Valentine said he long has admired Pedroia, but is even more impressed after being around him on a daily basis.
“I talked about him last year for the MVP. Seeing it is believing it,’’ Valentine said. “Dustin has played great. [His personality] is amazing. Consistently amazing. He’s unbelievable. He’s in there with the guys and I hear a lot of echoes. It’s always baseball. It’s what he wants to be doing. It’s great. Passion and commitment, right? He’s got it.’’
Pedroia was 1 for 4 and scored the only run for the Red Sox after breaking up Gavin Floyd’s no-hit bid with a single in the seventh.
Kevin Youkilis was in the original lineup was but scratched because of tightness on the left side of his lower back that popped up during batting practice. Nick Punto started in his place and was 0 for 3.
“He should be ready for tomorrow,’’ Valentine said.
Youkilis said he could have pinch hit if needed.
The White Sox scratched first baseman Paul Konerko because of a stiff neck.
Rich Hill, who had Tommy John surgery last June 9, made his season debut in the eighth inning. He walked Adam Dunn before getting A.J. Pierzynski to ground into a double play. But with a chance to end the inning, Hill allowed a single by righthanded hitting Alexei Ramirez and walked Kosuke Fukudome.
Hill was charged with a run when Dayan Viciedo singled off Junichi Tazawa.
It was the first run Hill has allowed with the Red Sox. He had thrown 12 scoreless innings over 15 appearances.
“He looked OK, just a little nervous,’’ Valentine said. “Couldn’t quite get that breaking ball over like he’d like to.’’
Ortiz moves up
David Ortiz’s double in the seventh gave him 694 extra-base hits with the Red Sox, good for fifth in team history as he passed Bobby Doerr. Jim Rice is fourth with 834 . . . After scoring 44 runs in the first five games of the road trip, the Sox were held to two (on seven hits) in the final two . . . The Red Sox bullpen allowed two earned runs over 17 2/3 innings on the trip . . . Kelly Shoppach (32) and pitching coach Bob McClure (60) celebrated birthdays . . . Valentine said that Daisuke Matsuzaka likely will make his next injury rehabilitation start for Triple A Pawtucket, the third in what the Red Sox expect will be five minor league starts . . . Ryan Sweeney (0 for 3) had a nine-game hitting streak snapped . . . NESN analyst Jerry Remy missed his second straight game because of illness . . . Edgar Gonzalez, the older brother of Adrian Gonzalez, was released by the Cubs after playing nine games for Triple A Iowa. He will pursue opportunities in Japan, where he has played before.