BOSTON — Different game, similar first inning for Josh Beckett.
The Red Sox starter has been plagued most of the season by rocky first innings and it wasn’t any different in Boston’s 5-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
He struck out the first batter, Anthony Gose, on a 93 mph fastball. Then Colby Rasmus tripled off the base of the wall in right field and scored when he beat third baseman Will Middlebrooks’ throw on Edwin Encarnacion’s grounder by slipping his hand ahead of catcher Kelly Shoppach’s tag.
“I can’t control that,” Beckett said. “Will made an aggressive play.”
J.P. Arencibia added an RBI single, making it 2-0. Beckett’s ERA in the first inning of games this season climbed to 10.69 and is 3.38 combined in all others.
“Josh is a fighter. He’s going to go out there and give us everything he’s got every time,” Middlebrooks said.
In the second, Rasmus made it 4-0 with a two-run double into the gap in left-centre. Beckett retired seven straight before the Blue Jays tacked on a run in the fifth on Adam Lind’s RBI single. A spattering of boos rained down on Beckett. Encarnacion reached second after Middlebrooks threw his infield hit into Boston’s dugout for an error before Lind’s hit.
“I thought he had good stuff all night. He got a ground ball to third and we didn’t get an out on it,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He made a couple of bad pitches in the first couple of innings and they scored four runs. But, he had pretty good stuff tonight.”
Beckett (5-8) gave up five runs — four earned — and seven hits, striking out seven and walking three.
Aaron Laffey pitched seven shutout innings for the Blue Jays. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Toronto, and was just its sixth in its last 15 games.
Laffey (2-1) scattered eight singles and worked out of trouble in the third and seventh innings. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
The 27-old left-hander is with the fourth team of his career. He was up with Toronto in April and May, but never appeared in a game before being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 11.
“He was just hitting spots and keeping the ball down,” Middlebrooks said. “When you keep the ball away and keep it on the black down at the knees, it’s hard to do much with it.”
Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen each pitched one inning for the Blue Jays.
Unlike Thursday, when Boston was held scoreless until pulling out a win in the ninth, there wasn’t much drama as the Red Sox scored their only run on Mike Aviles’ fielder’s choice grounder with one out in the ninth.
Laffey had runners on first and second in the third, but got the next two hitters to fly out. In the seventh, the Red Sox had the first two batters reach with singles.
Rasmus drove in two runs and Lind added two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays.
NOTES: The Blue Jays recalled OF Travis Snider from Triple-A Las Vegas before the game and optioned RHP David Carpenter, acquired in the 10-player trade with Houston earlier Friday, to Triple-A. “For the time being he’ll get most of the reps in left,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Snider. … Valentine had a nice pregame line when asked if there was any concern of injuries in walkoff celebrations after the Red Sox beat Chicago in their final at-bat Thursday night. “The more practice you have at celebrations, the better you get at it,” he said.