Monday April 11, 2011 | 07:58 AM

On Saturday, after the Red Sox lost to the Yankees, manager Terry Francona said the goal on Sunday was to win, period. It was not a special game because it was the Yankees. Every game is important, etc., etc., etc.

Still, Sunday night was special. Not just because it was a win over the Yankees, but because Josh Beckett looked like ..., well, Josh Beckett: 10 K, 2 H, 1 BB, Fastball hitting between 93 and 95. Players in both clubhouses told reporters there that it was the best outing from Beckett they've seen.

Follow an 0-6 start with a series win over the Yankees, and a gem from Beckett.

Can it get better for Red Sox fans? Possibly. Tampa Bay is coming to town.

The Rays will be in Boston without the childish one, Manny Ramirez. After Manny retired suddenly after another problem with performance enhancing drugs, the Rays canceled their Manny Bobblehead night and also removed all Ramirez items out of the team store.

They also have to find a clean-up hitter, and a whole lot more to reverse a 1-8 start.

Johnny Damon is with the Rays and still bitter about the reception he received when he played for the Yankees.

"They absolutely despise me," Damon told "I just have to say, 'you're welcome for '04. You're welcome for making it fun over there again.' "

It may seem unfair, but Damon is ignorant if he believes a Red Sox player can go to the Yankees and not be booed (ask David Wells about his reception at Yankee Stadium when he pitched for the Red Sox). The guess here is that he receives cheers tonight.

Meanwhile, Daisuke Matsuzaka goes against Jeremy Hellickson, who may end up being Tampa Bay's No. 2 pitcher behind David Price. Hellickson struck out 10 in his last start, but the Rays offense did not back him up.

In the minors, lefty Wade Britton got rocked in his Salem opener (2 1/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K) ... Outfielder Brandon Jacobs hit his third home run in four games for Greenville. He's batting .429.

I'll check in later with Red Sox and Sea Dogs lineups.



About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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