It’s difficult to say whom the Red Sox will be less excited to see Sunday night.
Ten days after flirting with a perfect game against Boston, Garza will try to pitch the Tampa Bay Rays to a seventh straight series victory over their AL East rivals when the clubs complete their three-game set at Fenway Park.
After homering and driving in five runs in Saturday’s 14-5 win, Longoria easily leads the majors with 44 RBIs, including 21 in nine games against the Red Sox. He also has five of his 11 homers versus Boston after hitting four in last year’s AL championship series between the clubs.
“I feel good,” Longoria said. “My swing is right where I want it to be and the guys have been getting on a lot. That helps a lot.”
Garza, meanwhile, is 5-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his last six starts against Boston, including two wins during the ALCS. In the last three, Boston has managed seven hits in 21 2-3 innings versus Garza (3-2, 3.51 ERA).
“We’ve got to try to find a way to figure him out,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia(notes) said after Garza retired the first 18 Boston batters he faced April 30. The young right-hander allowed only Jacoby Ellsbury’s(notes) infield single and one walk in 7 2-3 innings, striking out 10 during the Rays’ 13-0 win.
Garza’s season debut came at Fenway Park on April 9 and he gave up one run in seven innings of a 4-3 victory. He would go 0-2 in his next three starts before winning his last two, including eight strong innings against Baltimore in a 6-3 victory Tuesday.
Responding to a lackluster start, the Rays (15-17) have won seven of 10 overall, and a victory Sunday would make them 7-3 against Boston this season.
After winning the final three series between the teams in the 2008 regular season and beating the Red Sox in seven games in the ALCS, Tampa took two of three at Fenway to open the season before Boston (19-12) dropped three of four at Tropicana Field last weekend.
The Red Sox, who are 12-4 at Fenway but 2-3 against the Rays there, can at least take consolation that Sunday’s meeting is the last between the teams until Aug. 4.
Beckett dominated Tampa Bay on opening day, allowing two hits and one run in seven innings and striking out 10 in Boston’s 5-3 win. But since then, he is 2-2 with an 8.13 ERA.
He’s hoping Tuesday’s start at Yankee Stadium was a good sign, as he allowed 10 hits in six innings but held the Yankees to three runs in a 7-3 win.
“Some laboring times, but I made pitches when I had to,” Beckett said.
One player not looking forward to Beckett’s start is Carlos Pena(notes), who is 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against the right-hander this season. Pena, who went to high school and college in Massachusetts, enters the game leading the majors with 13 homers.
The Red Sox have remained without one of their biggest bats through the first two games of the series, as Kevin Youkilis(notes) has not played since Monday due to tightness in his left side. He’s unlikely to return Sunday.