Josh Beckett was decent in his Dodgers debut. On this night, though, he needed to be dazzling.
The right-hander tried to keep Los Angeles in the game until the team’s recently obtained big hitters could come through at the plate. Only, it didn’t go accordingly to plan.
Jeff Francis and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Colorado Rockies beat Beckett and the Dodgers 10-0 Monday night.
”We didn’t expect to get shut out, that’s for sure,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Beckett (0-1) was acquired in a nine-player megadeal deal with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. His career in Los Angeles got off to an inauspicious start when he gave up a leadoff homer to Tyler Colvin on his second pitch, a 91-mph fastball that ended up in the second deck.
He allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings as the Dodgers fell 2 1/2 games behind idle San Francisco in the NL West.
”I’ve only been here a couple of days,” Beckett said. ”I’m still feeling things out. As I move forward, I’ll get more comfortable.”
Meanwhile, Francis (5-4) settled right in. He scattered three hits in five innings and struck out a season-high six batters. Josh Roenicke, Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle combined to close it out, with Belisle pitching 1 2/3 innings to earn his second save this season.
Colvin had a big day at the plate, adding a two-run triple as part of a seven-run eighth inning that broke open a tight game. Wilin Rosario had a two-run homer in the frame.
Francis worked his way out of a sticky situation in the fifth after yielding a one-out single to Luis Cruz and a double to A.J. Ellis. Francis struck out Beckett and then Shane Victorino — on a 68-mph curve — to end the threat.
He slightly pumped his fist as he walked off the mound — a rare show of emotion by the usually reserved pitcher.
”It was kind of the turning point in the game,” he said.
With Francis and Beckett on the mound, this was a rematch of Game 1 of the 2007 World Series. In that contest, Beckett went seven innings and allowed one run en route to a 13-1 win. It set the tone for the series as Boston swept the Rockies.
Since that time, Francis underwent shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of 2009 and spent last season with Kansas City. He began this year in the minors for Cincinnati, before returning to Colorado, which drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2002.
In his tenure with the Rockies, Francis has been quite productive on the mound. He’s among the franchise leaders in wins (60), starts (166), innings (965) and strikeouts (654).
So, was this one of his most memorable wins?
”It’s funny, you know, because it’s only five innings. In the world of starting pitchers, it’s really nothing to get excited about,” Francis said. ”Within our role on this team, it’s our job. That’s what we go out there to do. So, it is very satisfying. It’s weird to stand here and think I did a really good job – I threw five innings.”
The Dodgers are hoping a change of scenery for Beckett results in a change of fortune. He struggled this season in Boston, going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA.
Beckett was a key part of the Red Sox on their way to the `07 World Series title, but he also was regarded as one of the ringleaders when the team struggled last September and missed a playoff spot on the final day of the season. Reports of players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games surfaced afterward, and Beckett’s bombastic demeanor aggravated fans.
But that’s all in the past for Mattingly, who said before the game that Beckett gets ”a little bit of a do-over, for a guy that’s coming from a place that there is a negative vibe all around him.”
After the game, Mattingly said he liked what he saw.
”(Beckett) did what we ask our guys to do,” he said. ”We just couldn’t do anything for him.”
In the deal with Boston, the Dodgers also picked up Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto, which meant inheriting around $275 million in contracts. That’s a lot of payroll for the Dodgers to take on and has some referring to the team as the Yankees of the west.
”I don’t know if I’d go that far yet,” pitcher Clayton Kershaw said. ”The Yankees have a tradition of winning that the Dodgers have, but we haven’t won in a while. It’s been 20-someting years since we won a World Series. Yeah, the Yankees can spend some money.
”And apparently we can do that, too, now.”
The Dodgers also recently acquired infielder Hanley Ramirez from Miami and Victorino from Philadelphia – deals that increase expectations. It’s postseason or bust for the Dodgers.
”If we don’t make the playoffs and don’t go to the World Series, then it’s not a good season,” Kershaw said. ”That’s probably true in any season, but our team, if you look at it on paper, we should win games, we should perform on the field and should make the postseason and we should go deep into the postseason. There are no excuses now.”
NOTES: Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (groin) and 1B Jason Giambi (viral syndrome) were scheduled to play Monday night with Double-A Tulsa before returning to Denver for more evaluation. … The Dodgers will send LHP Chris Capuano (11-9) to the mound Tuesday against RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-3). … 2B DJ LeMahieu drove in two runs and pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled in another for the Rockies.