10/01/2003 4:31 PM ET
Notes: Beckett more than impresses
Right-hander's first playoff start one to remember
SAN FRANCISCO -- If Tuesday was any indication, the best is yet to come for Marlins right-hander Josh Beckett.
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
While Beckett was on the losing end of a 2-0 decision to Jason Schmidt in Game 1 of the Division Series against the Giants, the 23-year-old from Spring, Texas, showed he has a promising future.
"His competitiveness in the second half of the season has been outstanding," Marlins pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal said.
So has his changeup.
A hard-thrower with a 96 mph fastball, Beckett sets up everything with heat. But his success of late can also be attributed to the improvement of his changeup.
"His changeup now is one of his best pitches," Rosenthal said. "It's 84-88 mph with some dive to it down."
Coupled with a biting curveball, Beckett has command of three pitches and he's become nearly unhittable.
The Giants mounted two hits off him in seven innings, and Beckett struck out nine.
Only once in his two-year career has Beckett pitched eight innings.
Once he gets a better economy of his pitches, keeping his count down, Rosenthal said he can become an eight and nine-inning pitcher.
Beckett threw 112 pitches, and walked five, with one intentional to Barry Bonds.
Tickets selling briskly: More than 54,000 tickets have been sold for Friday's Game 3 at Pro Player Stadium, and depending on walk-up, the crowd could exceed 60,000.
"It's all gravy," Marlins president David Samson said. "People should just live it up."
The gates are opening two hours before the 4:05 p.m. ET start, and tailgaters can get in the parking lot at 1:05 p.m.
To make exiting the game easier for fans, the Marlins are paying the tolls on Florida's Turnpike afterward.
Tickets remain available at floridamarlins.com.
At the stadium, tickets can be purchased at Gate G. By phone, call in Dade County (305.350.5050), Broward County (954.835.TEAM) and in Palm Beach County (561.998.TEAM).
Primarily, the remaining tickets are Upper Deck, Fish Tank and Upper Reserved. Those seats are in the $9 range.
More than 43,000 tickets have been sold for Game 4, if necessary, on Saturday.
Samson, who accurately predicted the Marlins would win 91 games (hit it on the nose), remains confident of his team's chances.
"Once you are here, you want to win," Samson said. "Our guys can do it. They want to do it. And they will do it.
"We rebound from losses better than many teams I've witnessed over the course of the years. I have no statistical analysis to back that up. But it seems like after we get our butts kicked, the next day we win the game."
Lowell progressing: Watching isn't the ideal way All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell envisioned spending the first two games of the Division Series.
But Lowell understands his role as he rebounds from a broken left hand.
"From a strength standpoint, I feel very good," Lowell said Wednesday. "I know the doctors said after that four-week timetable, I was going to notice a significant difference each day, and I have. I think that's a positive."
Lowell, who broke the fourth metacarpal on his left hand after being hit by a pitch Aug. 30 against the Expos, is available off the bench. He could be used as a pinch-hitter.
The Marlins leader in home runs (32) and RBIs (105), Lowell admits it is frustrating to be sitting.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "Especially since I feel like if I got the at-bats, I could help out and contribute. But you can't take away the fact that Miguel [Cabrera] and Jeff [Conine] have stepped up big-time these last few weeks. Cabrera is a kid who doesn't play like he's 20-years-old. He's come up with big hits for us.
"It's a tough decision. You know, that's why I think I'm glad I'm not the manager."
Sparking interest: Rebounding a fan base has been a grueling task for the Marlins after they broke up their 1997 World Series championship team.
Lowell, who joined the team in 1999, is encouraged by the late attendance boost by the Marlins and the fact possibly 60,000 will be on hand for Game 3.
"I guess it's something we had hoped would happen all year," Lowell said. "It's a long way from the 6,000 fans we get on a weekday, even though I think we were playing good baseball.
"I hope it's a sign for what's to come in the future for this organization. We're young, but I think we're exciting. We're a team that brings out a good product. I think if fans would keep coming out, they'll be happy to see us play.
"Maybe this playoff berth that no one expected is something good for the community and is something good for our organization. If we play well, which I'm hoping we do, people keep getting excited."
Did Alfonzo interfere?: The key play in San Francisco's 2-0 win Tuesday was Edgardo Alfonzo's bunt single that led to Cabrera's throwing error, scoring Rich Aurilia from second in the fourth inning.
The run gave the Giants a 1-0 lead that Schmidt protected with a complete-game, three-hitter.
First baseman Derrek Lee said Alfonzo may have been inside the baseline, which could have resulted in an interference call being made.
Similar plays at first are sensitive to the Marlins this season because twice in the regular season speedster Juan Pierre was ruled out at first on interference calls.
"I've seen it called with Pierre," Lee said. "It could have been called [on Alfonzo]."
By rule, the runner must have both feet on the foul side of the line. A Marlin who didn't want to be identified Tuesday said replays showed Alfonzo's left foot was on the grass.
Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck would have been the one to make the ruling.
No interference was called as Cabrera's throw from third tailed into the runner. Lee couldn't make the play as the ball skipped into foul territory up the line.
Aurilia scored from second.
Had interference been called, Alfonzo would have been out, and Aurilia and Bonds would have had to return to second and first base, respectively.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.