MLB Championship Series Day Three: Uh Oh, It's Josh Beckett

Nino CollaSenior Writer IOctober 11, 2008

You would think that the name Josh Beckett strikes fear into any team facing him in the postseason.

Instead, this year all it does is invoke questions and concerns. Will Beckett be healthy? Can Beckett pitch effectively? How will Josh Beckett impact this series?


Instead of being "The Factor" as he usually is, all of a sudden Josh Beckett has become "The X-Factor" of the ALCS.

I say it again, what?

This is Josh Beckett, our modern day playoff commander. The man you were pitching against in every game, even if he wasn't pitching. In the back of your mind, if you didn't win the fourth game, you knew there he would be in the fifth to knock you down.

Could it really be the Rays' year? With everything going their way, including Josh Beckett not being Josh Beckett, the Rays are looking like destiny’s child once again.

That sounded an awfully lot like Manny being Manny. I assure you, it's a whole different ball game.

Speaking of Manny and his Dodgers, they've gotten themselves in quite the hole haven't they?

I wouldn't say so, considering they've yet to play a home game. You have to be encouraged the way they are swinging the bats, but they need to stop the other team from doing so.

It never felt like the Dodgers were out of that game, because of guys like Manny Ramirez. They needed a better performance out of Chad Billingsley, but something had to give. Brett Myers pitched well until he messed with "Man-Ram" and we learned how locked in Ramirez really is.

Tampa is in a much worse spot than Los Angeles, which makes this game very crucial.

ALCS Game Two: Boston (Beckett) @ Tampa Bay (Kazmir)

With all the focus on Josh Beckett, let's not forget who will be taking the mound for the Rays.

Scott Kazmir struggled early against Chicago in the ALDS and he ended up surrendering eight hits and two walks. However that yielded just two runs, much thanks to Chicago's inability to get the big hit with men on base.

Kazmir can't do that against Boston in Game Two. The Red Sox are a veteran hitting lineup that will make you pay if you give them the opportunities.

In Game One, in seven plus solid innings of work, James Shields gave up six hits and two walks, far less opportunities that Kazmir gave the White Sox, and they still found a way to get to him.

On the offensive side, how about Kevin Youkilis? Youkilis and the middle of the order for Boston is the reason they won Game One. Ortiz was on base just once in four chances, but Youkilis' three hits, and the trio of Pedroia, Drew and Bay all getting on base five times combined was huge.

Now you look at Tampa Bay and the middle of their order and you realize why they didn't score a run.

Evan Longoria went 0-4 and Carlos Pena went 0-2, with a few walks. The middle of the lineup is going to need to thrive, because as solid as they are 1-9, Gabe Gross and Jason Barlett aren't going to beat the Red Sox. It was the complete opposite of what Boston did offensively.

They need to have some better success against Beckett, who we really have no clue about coming into this game.

I think the questions surrounding Josh Beckett are somewhat legit after seeing him struggle in the ALDS. However I don't see them continuing.

But, I also think that Tampa Bay needs this in the worst way.

Everything tells me to pick against Tampa. Beckett on the mound, Kazmir has been struggling, and Boston's lineup seems hotter than Tampa's.

I'm a smart guy, I know when to make the right and logical pick when I need to and this is it. The Red Sox have everything in the cards to win Game Two and take a commanding lead in the series as it heads back to Boston.