Josh Beckett’s career can be defined by two statement games: one in 2003, one in 2007.
Against the Yankees in the ’03 World Series, Beckett quieted the stadium and clinched a championship with a five-hit shutout in Game 6.
Against the Indians in Cleveland in ’07, Beckett led the Red Sox back from the brink in the ALCS, allowing one run over eight innings in Game 5.
Sunday night, the four-year pattern repeated itself, with shades of both statement games manifesting at Fenway Park.
One part Yankees, one part comeback, all parts dominant.
Beckett was again the Red Sox’ ace in a 4-0 victory over the Yankees, allowing two hits over eight innings with 10 strikeouts; the kind of performance the Sox have been aching for after a 1-7 start.
“It’s the best I’ve seen him, the most complete,” catcher Jason Varitek said.
Not only did Beckett temporarily stop the bleeding, he may have changed the long-term fortunes of the season.
If Sunday marked the return of the 2003/07 Beckett after three injury-riddled, inconsistent years, then reports of the Sox’ demise look wildly premature.