TORONTO -- Monday -- the day the Red Sox suffered a 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Blue Jays -- might end up being a memorable moment in this 2011 season. For Sox fans' sake, they better hope that isn't the case.
The significance of the 139th game of the season had little to do with what took place on the field. Sure, the Red Sox have lost four of their last five, having scored a total of six runs in those defeats. But the reality is that offensive downturn shouldn't define this day.
The true measure of the moment can be found when bringing up the names of Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard and Bobby Jenks.
These three all offered some level of importance when breaking down the Sox' chances in the postseason, with each of the trio seeing their lot in life take a turn Monday.
Here is what we know ….
BECKETT HEADS BACK TO BOSTON
First, let's get this out of the way: Beckett does not have what we would classically define as a sprained ankle.
The diagnosis of the injury suffered by the pitcher in the fourth inning Monday was originally classified as a sprain, but has since been identified as something different. It isn't clear if it is more promising, or potentially more threatening. As the pitcher said after the loss, he has never experienced anything like this so answers will have to come when he visits with foot specialist Dr. George Theodore Tuesday.
"It felt like it was locked up and then it popped in and out of socket or something, I don't know," Beckett explained. "It was definitely a definitive feeling for my ankle."
The starter said he didn't feel the injury until his second-to-last pitch, with his final offering -- his 58th of the game -- resulting in him pulling up after pushing off.
"It was hurting me pretty bad," Beckett said. "For me to take that much time trying to gather myself, I mean it was bothering me. Usually I'll try and hurry up and throw another pitch and see if it goes away."
That wasn't happening. After a visit from Red Sox manager Terry Francona and head trainer Mike Reinold, Beckett's day was done. Now we wait for how long that hiatus will last.
Beckett was on pace to approach his career-high in innings, having now thrown 173 2/3. (In 2009, when he threw the most innings of his career (214), the starter had completed 181 1/3 frames by this time of year.) It has been a workload that supplied the impetus for the Red Sox intending to give Beckett an extra day in each of the next two times through the rotation.
Now it would appear building in those extra days might not be necessary. Even if it is for a brief hiatus, it would appear the Red Sox will have their opportunity to draw back on Beckett. They just better hope they don't have to draw too far back.
Beckett may only have 12 wins, but the Red Sox are 19-8 in his starts. It is a success rate that rivals just about any pitcher in baseball, with the Yankees having gone 21-9 in CC Sabathia's starts, the Tigers going 22-8 in Justin Verlander's outings, and the Angels totaling a 19-10 mark in Jered Weaver's outings.
"I don't know," said Beckett when asked how serious the injury might be. "I've never had anything like this. I could wake up tomorrow and feel like playing basketball. We'll just see."
BEDARD SAYS IT'S NO BIG DEAL
The other perceived turn for the worse when it came to the Red Sox' starting rotation came in the form of news that Bedard would be skipping his next start, Friday.
What we know is that Bedard has identified the injury as a sprain of the MCL in his left knee, the same ailment that sidelined him for a month from the end of June until the end of July.
It is also the same injury he endured in 2005, which was also the initial time Bedard learned to pitch with the brace he currently fashions for each of his starts.
The thinking has been that with rest has come with improvement in the knee, hence the time off. But the notion that the knee would reach the level it did in his Saturday start -- forcing the lefty to noticeably rely more on his arm rather than his legs -- offered some red flags.
What had been a fastball that averaged 92 mph had dipped into the 80's. According to Francona, it was clearly time to make a move.
“It’s been sore. I think he’s been dealing with it,” said the manager. “I think it’s gotten a little more sore the last couple of innings the last game. I checked with him after the fifth inning because it looked like he was using a lot of arm. He was doing so well. He stayed out for the sixth and I just think after the game he started talking the trainers … the idea is to not have him limp through the last three or four starts but keep him where he can really help us. So we’re going to try and give him a little blow and see if one missed turn will help.”
Bedard, who is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA in his six starts with the Red Sox, believes that since he has dealt with the injury before, there's no reason he can't deal with this time around.
“I’m not concerned,” said Bedard, who doesn’t expect he will need surgery after the season. “It’s just sore and I just don’t want to make it too bad for later in the season and the playoffs. … It’s not bad. It hurts a little bit once in a while, a little more last start. Take a start off and start fresh.”
ANOTHER HIT FOR THE BULLPEN
Francona noted that the loss of Bobby Jenks -- who appears to be done for the season with a lingering back injury -- can be filed under: you can't miss what you never really had. But, still …
As of late August, just prior to the scheduled rehab appearance in Salem by Jenks on Aug. 27, there was optimism that the reliever was going to offer the presence he was originally brought in to do -- pitch high-leverage innings late in games.
Remember, this was the guy who at one point had been discussed as the potential heir apparent to Jonathan Papelbon if the closer left following after the 2011 season (or even if he faltered this year). It is the reason Jenks has bonuses bumping up his two-year, $12 million contract if he finishes a certain number of games.
But unless there is a miraculous discovery by Dr. Kirk Wood when the back specialist takes a look at Jenks Wednesday, the righty's contributions will have to wait until next year.
"The role we envisioned never came to fruition for various reasons all year," Francona said. "We've tried to fill that role. [Matt} Albers for the longest time just saved us, and [Alfredo] Aceves almost in a different role, but those guys have picked up so much slack. But having a guy who can be reliable that's been through it and can pitch the seventh, eighth or ninth, lefties or righties, yeah, it's a big deal. But we haven't had it so it's not like we had two good months of it and now we have to replace it. We haven't had it."
You might ask: How could a pitcher who hasn't pitched since July 7, totaled just 15 2/3 innings in 19 games, and carried a 6.32 ERA be missed? Well, when healthy Jenks showed enough promise to suggest he could be the guy who claimed the fifth-most saves in baseball from 2006-10.
Another reason the potential of Jenks to the bullpen was greeted with such optimism is that the Red Sox desperately need a pitcher like he represented for the previous four seasons. Clay Buchholz has offered some hope in that regard (if healthy by the end of September), and Aceves showed once again no matter where you pitch him he gets outs. (For the sixth time this season the righty pitched three or more innings in relief without giving up a run.)
But it would seem that the Sox would need that one extra late-inning guy.
Perhaps Albers can rebound from a horrific stretch (18 runs, 23 hits, eight walks in his last 11 1/3 innings), or Dan Wheeler gets back on the track he found himself prior to his last two appearances.
"I think we have the potential to be really good, I think we have the potential," said Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.