On a Boston staff featuring six-time All-Star Curt Schilling and Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka, it’s Beckett (11-1, 3.07 ERA) who has emerged as the ace in the first half of 2007. Despite a stint on the disabled list due to blister problems last month, the right-hander is tied with Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia for the major league lead in victories and is averaging nearly seven innings per start.
Sabathia also pitches Saturday night as the Indians host the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In Sunday’s 4-2 win at San Diego, Beckett limited the Padres to two runs and six hits over eight strong innings, walking just one while striking out eight.
“I don’t know if it’s just today,” Red Sox (49-29) manager Terry Francona said on the team’s official Web site. “He pitched today the way he’s pitched pretty much all year. Explosive fastball, good breaking ball—some changeups at times in the game really kept them off the fastball.”
Although Beckett has been dominant overall, the few struggles he has endured this year have come at home. He is 1-1 with a 5.64 ERA in his last four outings at Fenway, where he suffered his only loss of the year June 14 against Colorado, giving up six runs and 10 hits - both season highs - in five innings.
Beckett went 1-0 in two starts versus Texas (32-47) last season, allowing four earned runs over 12 1-3 innings in those outings.
He may need to be at the top of his game if Boston’s offense continues to struggle. The Red Sox have scored two runs or fewer in 12 of their 26 games this month, including a 2-1 loss at Seattle on Wednesday and a 2-1 victory in Friday night’s series opener to snap a three-game losing skid.
The Red Sox won Friday despite failing to homer for the third time in four games and going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Texas went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Rangers starter Robinson Tejeda (5-7, 6.57) would surely like a repeat of his first start against Boston. The right-hander pitched the best game of his career on April 6, limiting the Red Sox to two hits and three walks in seven innings of a 2-0 victory.
He finished April with a 3-1 record but has struggled mightily since, going 2-6 with an 8.41 ERA in his last 10 outings - five of which lasted four innings or less.
Tejeda gave up seven runs - five earned - five hits and four walks in just 3 2-3 innings Sunday, as the Rangers fell 12-9 to Houston in 10 innings.