Jalen Beeks didn’t exactly leave a lasting impression with the Red Sox back in March, but the big league hopeful still earned some words of encouragement from manager Alex Cora.
That came after a disastrous spring training start in which Beeks gave up seven runs and never recorded an out. The 24-year-old went back to Triple A and continued to hone his craft, and had begun the season leading the International League with 80 strikeouts.
That led to last night, when Beeks earned a call-up and a spot start with the Sox, who brought him in with designs of giving their regular starters extra rest. But the lefty’s chance at redemption didn’t go much better, and reinforced that he’s still a work in progress.
Beeks had a forgettable first inning as he put the Red Sox in a five-run hole they couldn’t dig out of, and an unorthodox lineup struggled at the plate in a 7-2 loss to the Tigers in their series finale at Fenway.
“It wasn’t the start that he wanted, what we wanted from him, but I think it’s a step,” Cora said. “It’s going to help him out for him to keep developing at this level. We’ve been talking throughout the season, it’s very important to mix up your pitches, and he learned that in the first inning, and after that he was OK.”
Beeks made progress by recording an out this time, striking out JaCoby Jones to start the game, but it went downhill from there.
Nicholas Castellanos followed with a double and Miguel Cabrera drew a walk before Beeks got Victor Martinez to fly out to right, and then the Tigers did some damage with two outs.
Jeimer Candelario hit an RBI double and John Hicks followed with a two-run single before pitching coach Dana LeVangie came out for a mound visit, but it did nothing to quell Beeks’ early troubles.
The next batter, Leonys Martin, took a 1-1 fastball and knocked a homer that barely got over the Green Monster to make it 5-0.
“Disappointing,” Beeks said. “Obviously not what you want, but that first inning was rough. Just gotta execute pitches better.”
To his credit, Beeks didn’t let the opening frame destroy him. He only gave up one run over his next three innings, and ended his short outing with a 1-2-3 fourth.
Beeks may have been a bit too predictable with his fastball in the first inning, and according to Cora, didn’t mix his pitches enough. But his manager was pleased that the first inning didn’t rattle him.
“He competed,” Cora said. “After that first inning, he kept going, he kept attacking and he made some adjustments, so we’re proud of the way he competed (last night).
“He’ll be fine. He’s a good pitcher. He has a bright future. We really like the way he competed after that. He didn’t let it bother him. He kept competing, he gave us four.”
He did, but the offense couldn’t pick him up. An unorthodox lineup that included Blake Swihart at catcher, Sam Travis in left and Christian Vazquez at designated hitter couldn’t do much damage against Detroit starter Matthew Boyd and the Tigers bullpen.
Andrew Benintendi hit his 11th homer of the season in the first inning, and Swihart doubled before scoring on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, but that was it. The Red Sox were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base.
They certainly had some prime opportunities to score more.
The Sox had two situations in which they had bases loaded with just one out, only to come up empty both times. In the second inning, the bases were juiced for Benintendi, who grounded into a double play.
In the eighth, Brock Holt singled, Mitch Moreland walked and Eduardo Nunez followed with a single, but Joe Jimenez shut the door. Travis struck out swinging on a 96-mph heater before Devers was caught looking at strike three on a 97-mph fastball.