The Greatest Game No One Watched by Ben Altsher
The Greatest Game No One Watched
In case you missed it, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night, ending a 39-year drought and adding to what has already been a decade of spoils for New England sports fans. The Bruins accomplished this in fairly dominant fashion, a 4-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks. However, in a slightly more remote part of North America, there was a game that featured perhaps the most dominant performance we’ve seen by a Boston athlete this year.
Josh Beckett, the league leader in ERA, went out and completely embarrassed the Tampa Bay Rays, holding them to one measly infield single in a complete game shutout. That was the only man to reach against Beckett. There were no walks, no one was hit by a pitch, and the righty didn’t even crack 100 pitches in the nine innings he tossed.
It was the best pitching performance by a Red Sox since Jon Lester’s no-hitter, and the best this season in all of Major League Baseball with the exception of Justin Verlander’s no-no (sorry, Francisco Liriano). Of the 28 batters Beckett faced (one more than the minimum), 14 saw no more than three pitches. You don’t need me to be a math geek to tell you that that’s an insanely efficient pace in this day and age where on-base percentage is valued more highly than batting average.
Yet, just moments before Kevin Youkilis’ three-run home run cleared the wall in Tropicana Field, paving the way for Beckett’s win, Patrice Bergeron scored what would be the game-winning goal in the first period. In fact, outside of baseball-only circles, I’d bet that few people even bothered checking on the Red Sox game because of the drama of the winner-take-all attitude that comes with Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. So for now, Beckett’s gem will remain hidden beneath the weight of Stanley Cup Fever. Just don’t be surprised if he pulls another one out for all to see at some point later this year.