BOSTON -- The first inning has been the toughest inning for Josh Beckett this season. In 15 starts, he's allowed 17 first-inning runs for an ERA of 10.20.
Beckett faces the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park tonight, and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine doesn't believe that those first-inning woes will be an issue.
"I think he'll get by the first inning without a problem, and I think he'll build on his start from last time," said Valentine before the game. "He's feeling good. And I'm really confident that he's going to give us a chance to win this game."
The Red Sox are coming off a dramatic walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox in which they also saw a dominant eight-inning performance from Clay Buchholz. The night before, they crushed the White Sox 10-1.
But even with those two wins, Valentine doesn't believe any of that will carry over to tonight against the Blue Jays.
"I don't believe in momentum," said Valentine. "I mean, I think that you could have momentum in a game and in an inning, but I don't think yesterday necessarily carries over, other than you have a good feeling when the game starts.
"You know, 10 runs on Wednesday, sometimes maybe you get a little overconfident. Everyone gets hits and they figure it's going to be easy. It's never easy at the Major League level, never. And as soon as you think it is easy, that's when it gets really difficult."
--Reliever Andrew Bailey (thumb) threw off the mound today, and he'll throw another bullpen session on Sunday. After that, Bailey could possibly throw to hitters on Wednesday.
"I don't think he has a health issue to deal with any longer," said Valentine. "He now just has the conditioning, a pitch build-up, and the competition challenge ahead of him."
--Reliever Rich Hill (elbow) is still throwing off flat ground and long toss, but he's healing "really good" and is pain free in all of his programs, according to Valentine.
"He's getting close," said the Red Sox manager. "He's feeling good."