10/22/2003 1:48 AM ET
Beckett is brilliant in defeat
RHP limits Yankees to three hits in 7 1/3 innings
Beckett ends seventh with a strikeout
MIAMI -- Josh Beckett grew up in Texas admiring Roger Clemens, who starred at the University of Texas before
embarking on his Hall of Fame big-league career, so Tuesday was going to be a special night for the young Marlins ace no matter what transpired.
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
Clemens will be making the last of his 600-plus starts Wednesday in Game 4 of the World Series for New York
at Pro Player Stadium, and Beckett had the ball for Florida in Game 3.
"It's not every day you get to pitch in front of your idol," Beckett said earlier in the Series. "So, of course, I want to do well. I want to show him what I've learned from watching him."
Done and done. Before and after rain forced a delay with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday, Beckett more than proved that he's worthy of all the recent Clemens comparisons.
With the exception of a laborious fourth inning in which one disputed call helped the Yankees nick him for a
game-tying run, Beckett was dominant against everyone not named Derek Jeter.
Jeter had the only three hits Beckett gave up over 7 1/3 impressive innings and scored the only two runs charged against him in a 6-1 loss.
"He's got a lot of good power hitters behind him in that lineup, so you have to challenge him," Beckett said of Jeter. "He's in the perfect spot for them, 'cause you have to get after him, and he can really hit."
The hard-throwing righty went into Nuke LaLoosh mode right away, announcing his presence with authority by striking out Alfonso Soriano and Jeter to open the game. Nobody in New York's lineup fared much better
through the first three innings either as Beckett set down the first 10 batters he faced.
"Josh Beckett was not easy tonight," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "He didn't give up anything."
The hiccup came in the fourth, which Beckett opened by again striking out Soriano.
Jeter broke up the bid for perfection with a double down the left-field line, and after walking Jason Giambi and hitting Hideki Matsui with a pitch to load the bases, Beckett hummed a 2-2 fastball to Jorge Posada that most of the 65,000-plus fans at Pro Player Stadium assumed had killed the mini-rally.
Home plate umpire Gary Darling had the best view of it, though, and despite the vehement protestations of Marlins
manager Jack McKeon, he called it a ball. Posada walked on the next pitch, forcing Jeter home and tying the game, 1-1.
"I've never been one to complain about things like that," Beckett said. "I just throw the pitches, and if he calls them strikes, they're strikes. If not, you have to throw a strike on the next pitch, and I didn't."
By the time Beckett got Karim Garcia to pop up for the third out, he'd thrown 30 pitches in the inning. But
he returned to his previously economical form -- he finished with 108 pitches -- in the top of the fifth,
setting the Yanks down in order before the skies opened up and stopped the action in the bottom of the frame.
Beckett had five strikeouts at the time of the 39-minute delay, and the break did little to slow him down. Jeter singled to open the sixth, but Beckett responded by striking out Giambi and Bernie Williams, and while
a walk to Matsui put Jeter into scoring position, Posada popped out to end the inning.
"The rain didn't have any effect on me or us," Beckett offered. "We play in games like this all the time. Once I knew what time we were starting back up, I just warmed up again and got back to business."
After ripping through a perfect seventh with two more strikeouts, Beckett got Soriano on strikes for the third time to start the eighth. But punchout No. 10 on the night was his last, because another double by Jeter prompted McKeon to replace Beckett with Dontrelle Willis, who walked Giambi and gave up a two-out, tie-breaking single to Matsui that hung Beckett with the loss.
"I feel bad for Josh because he was great tonight, and we wasted his effort," said Marlins leadoff man Juan Pierre. "It was one of those nights where, the way Josh was pitching, you knew that two or three runs would
have been enough, and we didn't get the job done."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.