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BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 07:  Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox and Jason Varitek #33 talk win between pitches in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees on August 7, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Josh Beckett, talking to Jason Varitek on Sunday night.

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The Red Sox Are Expecting to Hear From MLB About the Pace of Sunday Night’s Game

Sunday night's game between the Yankees and Red Sox lasted four hours and fifteen minutes. That means, if Google maps is to be believed, that Phil Hughes could have watched the first pitch in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse, driven to Boston, and still made it to Fenway Park in time to give up the game-winning run. Yes, the game went ten innings, and it's long been understood that the Yankees and Red Sox play especially long games because their hitters tend to work counts. (Plus, it was broadcast on national TV, which lengthens the commercial breaks between innings.) But Josh Beckett didn't exactly do much to speed things along. And for that, Terry Francona expects to hear from the league office.

Here's Francona, who admitted Beckett was "a little slow last night," talking about Sunday night's game. From the AP:

"We'll probably get a letter, which I understand," Francona said on Monday before his team opened a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins. "It makes sense. They want to get it going and I understand that."

Not that the Yankees are unfamiliar with long games, in general: Their games have averaged 3:01 this year, ten minutes longer than the league average. But facing Beckett, especially, can mean a team is in for a long game. According to FanGraphs, he takes 26.2 seconds between pitches. (For comparison's sake, the Yankees' most deliberate starter this year is A.J. Burnett, who takes 23.5 seconds. And to give that a little bit more context, the fastest starter in the league last year was Mark Buehrle, who took just 16.4 seconds between pitches. In FanGraph's pace calculations, by the way, pick-off attempts are counted as pitches, and "anything that looks like a delay of game is thrown out.")

Last year, three of the five slowest starters in baseball were on the Red Sox staff: Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz. (CC Sabathia was the fifth slowest last year at 24.6, but he's since shaved almost a second and a half off that time.) That said, Beckett's got nothing on Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who takes an astounding 30.8 seconds between pitches. Even more astounding: If he stays on that pace for the rest of the season, it would only be the third-slowest pace of his career. Joe West, undoubtedly, does not approve.

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Photo: Elsa/Getty Images