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Beckett dominates Rays in opener

Josh Beckett opened 2009 in fine fashion, turning in his first 10-strikeout game in 21 starts (postseason included) while allowing one run over seven innings against the Rays.

It was a nearly flawless performance outside of what I thought was a foolish decision to give Jason Bartlett, who just isn't much of a threat against right-handers, a 3-2 breaking ball in the third. Bartlett walked, putting two men on and bringing up the top of the order, and the Rays went on to score their lone run. It tied the game at the time, but the Red Sox quickly responded with three runs and went on to win 5-3.

As Baseball Prospectus reveals in a chart, Beckett had excellent velocity today. He now has to be viewed as the heavy favorite in the AL Cy Young race after both Roy Halladay allowed five runs and CC Sabathia gave up six yesterday. There's just no coming back from that.

In all seriousness, Beckett has just about as good of a shot as anyone if he throws 210-220 innings. If he had gotten there in 2007, when he won 20 of his 30 starts, he'd have a Cy on his mantle already.