Beckett looks to continue his mastery of the Angels and help the Boston Red Sox post their longest winning streak in nearly two years as these clubs meet Tuesday for the first time since last year’s AL division series.
That matchup saw Beckett (2-1, 5.12 ERA) get Boston off to a great start, throwing a four-hitter with no walks and eight strikeouts in a 4-0 victory. Los Angeles ended up being swept, getting outscored 19-4, and the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.
“Beckett was about as good as we’ve seen him,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after that Game 1 loss.
However, Beckett’s always been good against Scioscia’s team.
Including last year’s postseason start, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in five appearances versus the Angels, walking eight and striking out 30.
A sore back sent Beckett to the disabled list to start this season, and he struggled in his 2008 debut at Toronto before beating the New York Yankees in his last two starts as he gave up six runs in 14 2-3 innings.
“He understands his responsibility and he’s good enough to carry it out. He looked healthy,” Boston manager Terry Francona said after Beckett pitched a season-high eight innings in a 7-5 win at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
That victory triggered the Red Sox’s current five-game win streak, matching its longest from all of last season. They haven’t won six in a row since a 12-game run from June 16-29, 2006.
A rejuvenated offense has helped Boston (14-7) win nine of 10, hitting .338 and scoring 69 runs. The Red Sox were held to 43 runs through their first 11 games while batting .259.
They capped a four-game sweep of Texas with an 8-3 victory on Monday.
David Ortiz may be coming around after a slow start, going 7-for-16 (.438) with a homer and 11 RBIs in the Rangers series. He entered with a .111 average and four RBIs.
Ortiz is part of a red-hot top of the order for Boston.
Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury went 6-for-14 (.429) with five walks, four steals and seven runs scored in the Texas series. Dustin Pedroia is batting .436 (17-for-39) with 10 RBIs over the last 10 games. Cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez has hit .452 (14-for-31) with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last nine games, and tops the AL with 20 RBIs.
“That’s the key for us,” Ellsbury said, “getting on base and allowing our great batters in our lineup to get up. As long as we get runners on, we know we’re going to score some runs.”
That group faces an Angels pitching staff which has a 3.13 ERA over the last eight games, winning six. The relief corps has been outstanding for Los Angeles (12-8), posting a 0.47 ERA in the last seven games with four walks and 13 strikeouts over 19 innings.
Hoping to hand a lead to that bullpen will be Jered Weaver (1-3, 3.60), looking to beat the Red Sox for the first time.
Weaver was 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four starts against them before losing the third and final game of last year’s division series. He went five innings and surrendered two runs - on back-to-back homers by Ortiz and Ramirez - in a 9-1 defeat.
The right-hander has been given just nine runs of support through four starts. In his last outing, Weaver settled down after a shaky start and ended up allowing three runs - two earned - in six innings of a 3-2 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday.