The plan to slide Josh Beckett into the fourth spot couldn’t have worked out better. It got him an extra start in spring training and took him out of the opening weekend spotlight in his home state against a tough Texas line-up. The unexpected benefit of the plan was all three starters getting their asses handed to them.

Tonight, Beckett takes the hill knowing that unless he pitches underhand, he can’t possibly be as bad as Lester, Lackey and Buchholz. In fact, he has a chance to re-establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation pitcher.

What could possibly be going through Beckett’s mind as he gets ready for this start? A guy as intense and competitive as Beckett must be out of his mind with anticipation. Sure, he’s said all the right things with the microphones and cameras on, but can’t you imagine him thinking “they started these guys ahead of me?”

I expect some vintage Beckett badassery to ensue in Cleveland. And you can bet he won’t let batters get all cozy in the box the way Red Sox pitching allowed the Rangers to do all weekend. Until Papelbon took care of business, that is. The first win is tonight as we chip away at the commanding Baltimore lead in the AL East.