After earning his 500th victory with Boston, Francona sends Beckett to the mound against the struggling Detroit Tigers in the middle game of their series Wednesday night.
Boston’s 5-1 victory Tuesday made Francona the third manager to win 500 games with the Red Sox (30-22), joining Joe Cronin (1,071) and Mike Higgins (560).
“That means I’ve been really lucky with an organization with a lot of players that have been very good,” said Francona, who’s in his sixth season with the Red Sox and also won 285 games with Philadelphia from 1997-2000.
Just one game behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, Boston appears to be primed for another big season. Stability from the rotation would certainly help.
The Red Sox’s starters have had their share of troubles in 2009, but have settled down to allow one run in three of their last five games. Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes)—an 18-game winner in 2008—earned his first of the year Tuesday, shutting down a Tigers team that went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Boston desperately needs Matsuzaka to get into a groove, as Beckett (5-2, 4.60 ERA) has in recent weeks. Beckett is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last three starts after posting a 7.22 ERA through his first five outings.
The right-hander gave up one run and three hits while striking out eight in seven innings to earn the decision in a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Thursday.
Beckett is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the AL Central-leading Tigers (28-22), who have scored three runs or fewer in four of their last five games. Detroit didn’t get a hit Tuesday from the fourth inning until they started the ninth with three straight singles off closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes).
Boston, meanwhile, has scored a combined 13 runs in its last two games after averaging 2.6 in its previous five contests, losing four.
But Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz(notes) remains locked in a terrible slump, going 2 for 18 over his last four games to drop his average to .186. He has just one homer after hitting at least 23 in six straight seasons.
The right-hander suffered a loss against Baltimore on Thursday, allowing three runs and 10 hits in seven innings as Detroit fell 5-1. Galarraga has faced the Red Sox once, giving up five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings during a 10-9 Tigers loss on May 7, 2008.