Manny Delcarmen walked out of the Red Sox clubhouse right behind Justin Masterson, just after midnight, and placed his hand on Masterson’s left shoulder. “Unbelievable, dude,” Delcarmen said, and then they both walked silently down the tunnel toward the exit.
Delcarmen, Masterson, and the rest of the Red Sox bullpen knew they had to return to the clubhouse in less than 10 hours. That’s how long they have to learn from or erase what happened during the 11-10 collapse to the Baltimore Orioles, or some combination of both.
“It will be important to bounce back tomorrow,” manager Terry Francona said. “I don’t know that I necessarily want to forget about it at this moment. Playing with some energy tomorrow will be very important.”
“There’s games in a year you just chalk up to fluke,” said John Smoltz, who redefined the term tough-luck starter. “Our bullpen is outstanding. As far as our bullpen is concerned, this is one that will sting a little bit. But when you got Josh Beckett on the mound tomorrow, he has a tendency to erase that.”
Smoltz, in employing the momentum-is-only-as-good-as-today’s-starter idiom, has a point. Beckett has pitched following a loss seven times this season. The Red Sox are 6-1 in those games, the only loss coming May 23 against the Mets, when he allowed one unearned run in eight innings on five hits and a walk.
In games after losses, Beckett has a 0.86 WHIP, a 1.08 ERA, and a 5-0 record. In four of the seven starts, he hasn’t given up a single earned run, including a complete game against the Braves. He is a stopper of the highest order. If the Sox could choose handpick anyone to start Wednesday’s game, it would be Beckett.
So the members of the Red Sox bullpen can count on Beckett to deliver. In the scant hours until Beckett takes the mound, they’ll have to deal with a catastrophic defeat, or at least find a way to forget it. When he wakes up tomorrow, Masterson was asked, would he think about the game?
“Probably not,” Masterson said. “Probably just move on and be ready to go tomorrow. Because that’s what you have to do.”