BASEBALL TONIGHT EXTRA
Penny puts clamps on Marlins
The Dodgers got the kind of dominating performance they've long been expecting from Brad Penny, who was excellent in a road victory over the Marlins on Monday.
Penny had no-hit stuff from the start, and though he didn't get a no-no, he managed several notable accomplishments. He whiffed 10 batters in the first four innings and was in total control for all of the seven innings he pitched. As the Elias Sports Bureau reports, it was as dominant a strikeout-to-walk performance since the days of Sandy Koufax. More importantly from a present perspective, it showed what Penny is capable of -- being the ace of a staff, a team leader, and a pitcher capable of getting his squad back into postseason play.
BECKETT MATURING IN HIS ROLE WITH RED SOX
Josh Beckett has really grown as a pitcher.
Early in his career, he had great stuff, enjoyed success, was a World Series MVP and pitched with a power fastball and power curveball. He came on the scene and exploded with great ability. Then the league and players got to know him and he wasn't as good and as consistent despite his ability. Then he came to Boston with great expectations because of all the potential he had.
Now (this season) he's added a two-seam fastball and his breaking ball is really two different pitches. He has the curveball that he throws for a strike, but now he can change gears on it to really have that "hammer" curve -- one with more velocity and break. There's more risk involved in throwing it, but Beckett understands how to use it and how to make it come out of his body.
He's really maturing, learning how to pitch and not letting his emotions sway from the plan. He continues to execute pitch after pitch and understands that executing each pitch is more important than allowing the emotions to take over and just becoming a thrower. And this year, the results have turned into something he can recreate, whereas early in his career he couldn't do that. His focus is now on being a pitcher, which is why he's 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA heading into his start on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Beckett has focused on the formula which brings him success now and you see that in him.
There's also a purpose to what Beckett does and his reaction to situations. Every move on the mound has a purpose; you see that with Curt Schilling when he walks around the mound -- in good or bad situations -- it's always about finding a solution and not reacting to a problem. Beckett has more of that mentality right now.
What's also helped him more is that he has a year under his belt as he's learned from veterans like Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. At times, you are initially exposed to all that knowledge and expertise and it can almost make you sick because you realize how lost you are. So you try to soak it all in and learn, and this year Beckett has really started to possess that knowledge and has deciphered what's good for him, what works and what doesn't work, and that's just part of the learning curve.
• Barry Bonds scored the 2,175th run of his career on Monday, moving past Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron into third place on the all-time list, behind Rickey Henderson (2,295) and Ty Cobb (2,245). Ruth had been in the top three in runs scored since he tied Eddie Collins for third place on August 12, 1931.