Red Sox turn to Beckett in Game 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jon Lester stood just a few feet from Josh Beckett's locker in a quiet clubhouse. He said he thought the pitches that he threw on Thursday night were done so with conviction. He felt he made a few mistakes, but could walk away without any despair.
Then he referenced his teammate, who will be starting Game 2 on Friday night against the Angels, who won the opener 5-0 and beat the Red Sox for only the second time in the past 11 postseason games the teams have played.
"I'd like another shot at [the Angels]," Lester said. "Hopefully, Josh and Clay [Buchholz] will pick me up."
Beckett has a penchant for that. In the three games he's pitched with his team trailing in a postseason series, Beckett has a 1.23 ERA and has won all three starts. On Friday night, he'll have a chance to run that streak to four.
"That's a good thing for us then, isn't it?" Jason Varitek said. "His stuff, he has experience, he's a bulldog -- you've got to be able to have stuff to be able to do that, too."
Beckett's postseason numbers are stellar. He is 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA. His .778 winning percentage is third-best, behind John Smoltz (.789) and Curt Schilling (.846). In division series games, his ERA is 2.14, and he is holding opponents to a .192 average.
"I think the extra adrenaline helps that," said Beckett before the Red Sox's Game 1 loss. "I think everybody's a little more locked in in the postseason. I know that you come in, and obviously, you don't feel like you did when you come into spring training. You've got a little bit of physical tiredness, whatever it may be. But I think the best way to approach it is to just approach it exactly as you said. It is just another game. You've got to go out there and do exactly the same things you did in the games you were successful in the regular season."
"He works really hard every day of the week," manager Terry Francona said. "So when his day comes, he can really go out and rise to the occasion. ... Because of his talent, he put that together in a lot of big situations. He's come up big."
Beckett, who had three cortisone shots injected into his back two weeks ago after suffering back spasms, was asked whether he approaches games differently depending on whether his team is up or down in a series.
"No," he said. "You need to win every game. ... Every game means a lot. Whether you're up two games to nothing, you're not trying to give games away."
Victor Martinez will be catching Beckett in their first postseason pairing. Martinez caught Beckett's last three starts, in which he went 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA. That means Varitek likely will not start any of the games in this series. When approached about whether he was starting, Varitek declined to say.
"I want the element of surprise for the other team," he said, smiling.
No matter, the Angels will have enough to worry about handling Beckett.
Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com and ESPNBoston.com. You can reach her at email@example.com or at twitter.com/amyknelson.