Peter Gammons is on record, I've heard him say this in person, that if Josh Beckett is healthy the Red Sox are the favorites to win the 2009 World Series. Gammons of course is referencing the Josh Beckett from the 2003 and 2007 postseasons, where Beckett was nearly untouchable.
Today Josh Beckett was nearly untouchable, shutting down the Tampa Bay Rays down for 7 innings allowing 2 hits and striking out 10, while walking 3 in route to a 5-3 win today at Fenway Park. If you didn't get to watch the game Beckett really only had 2 innings that weren't easy. In the third inning he walked 2, leading to the only run he gave up, and the 6th inning Beckett stranded runners at second and third.
Of course it's only opening day and there are 161 games left in the season, but you can't help but walk away from today's game with a great feeling about the guy at the top of the Sox rotation. All I kept thinking about today during the game today was, "If Beckett was healthy last October the Sox beat the Rays in the ALCS." Feel free to disagree with that, but I believe it's true.
A lot has been made about the character and makeup of Josh Beckett going into this season. Some have touched on his focus to pitch on his day, while others talked about how he has a lot to prove this year in wake of last year's mediocrity.
After the top half of the first inning I think we saw the answers to both questions; Beckett is focused and is poised to have a lights out year. Iwamura whiffed to open the game, Crawford grounded out weakly to short on a nice play by Lowrie, and Longoria looked foolish chasing a curve ball for strike 3.
Beckett's curve ball looked very good today, ask Carlos Pena who struck out 4 times, 3 courtesy of Beckett.
Beckett is sure to have a bad start along the way, and he'll need help from the other 24 guys the roster to reach the destination that is the World Series. After just one day I need no other reminder that I wouldn't want anyone else pitching opening day or game 1 in October; Josh Beckett.