Since Josh Beckett was booed off the field last Thursday, the Sox rotation had made 4 very good starts in a row. If Beckett didn't make it 5 against a weak Seattle lineup, on his birthday, and in front of Tim Wakefield, then I think people would have spat on him as he left the field. In other words, there was no excuse to not pitch well today. He certainly hadn't been strained in his previous start. Hell, he'd only thrown 2.1 innings in May.
He did his job yesterday. He struck out 9 Mariners in 7 innings, making quick work of a lineup that has 0 players hitting over .300, and 2 hitting below .200. Only Ichiro gave Beckett a problem with a pair of singles and a pair of stolen bases. Beckett only threw 93 pitches in his 7 innings, and easily could have gone deeper into the game.
That was unnecessary. The bullpen was fresh thanks to Lester's CG on Monday. And the Sox had a 4-0 lead. With the way Beckett was pitching, and the way Seattle was missing, a 4-0 score looked like a 14-0 score. Ortiz hit his 8th homer of the season. Aviles had an RBI double. Middlebrooks had an RBI single. Aviles added another RBI double in the 8th to erase any doubt.
The Sox ended their homestand on a positive note, with 5 straight wins. They're still very streaky. They were streaky last year, too. Streaky is the mark of inconsistent starting pitching. Good SPs prevent losing streaks. Streaky teams might win 5 straight (the Sox have done that twice), but they'll also lose 5 straight (the Sox have done that twice, as well).
Even after winning 5 straight, the Sox are still 2 games under .500.
So they've made steps. They have more steps to go. Beckett and the Sox are very similar. Inconsistent and unpredictable. We've seen brilliance from Beckett before. That's never been his problem. His problem has always been consistency.
The Sox go down to Florida for a two game series against the Rays. This will be a good test for them. Tonight Buchholz faces 3-0 Jeremy Hellickson. Unlike Buchholz, Hellickson has actually earned his wins.