BoSox in The Bronx
Josh Beckett rebounded from a sluggish start to the season with a strong performance against the New York Yankees at home.
He hopes to overcome a change of venue Tuesday night when he takes the mound as the Red Sox conclude their two-game set with their arch-rivals.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -132 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -132 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Beckett (1-1, 6.35 ERA) began 2008 on the disabled list with back spasms after finishing as the only 20-game winner in the majors last season. The right-hander then struggled in his season debut April 6, allowing five runs, three hits and four walks with six strikeouts while throwing 92 pitches in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Toronto.
The ace responded by limiting the Yankees (9-7) to three runs and five hits while fanning five and throwing 88 pitches in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory on Saturday.
"He was good," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the team's official Web site. "The ball was coming out of his hand real crisp. His pitch count was so low. To do that against that lineup, I don't care if it's April or not, that's impressive."
Beckett, though, hasn't been as effective in the regular season at Yankee Stadium, going 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA while serving up five homers and allowing the Yankees to hit .345 in four starts there. He won the clinching Game 6 of the 2003 World Series with a five-hit shutout on short rest with Florida in the Bronx.
He hopes to help Boston (9-7) salvage a split of this set after a 15-9 loss at New York in the series opener - the club's fifth consecutive defeat in the Bronx.
The Red Sox hope David Ortiz is finally shaking off his early slump. The designated hitter has gone 4-for-15 (.267) with an RBI over the last three games after enduring a 3-for-43 (.070) slump with one homer and three RBIs in the first 12 games of 2008.
Despite his recent improvements at the plate, Ortiz is still hitting only .121 with a .239 on-base percentage after setting career highs of .332 and .445, respectively, last year.
With Ortiz struggling, Manny Ramirez is off to a strong start. The left fielder is batting .323 after going 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Wednesday. He has a .320 career batting average with 53 homers and 156 RBIs against New York.
The Yankees will give Mike Mussina (1-2, 4.15) a second consecutive start opposite Beckett after he allowed four runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings and made a questionable decision Saturday.
With two outs in the sixth inning, the 39-year-old right-hander elected to pitch to Ramirez - who has seven homers off Mussina - with first base open and runners on base. He then gave up a two-run double as New York lost the lead for good.
"I thought he was pretty good," Yanks manager Joe Girardi told the team's official Web site. "He gave up a big two-out hit that ended up costing us. He gave up two of them in that inning. It ended up costing us the game, but I thought he threw well again."
The Yankees have lost Mussina's last four starts against Boston with the hurler going 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA while allowing six homers and a .362 batting average.
Mussina hopes to get some help from the offense, which produced season highs in runs and hits (16) Wednesday.
Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the victory, giving him 522 for his career to pass Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 15th place on the career list. The third baseman has gone 7-for-14 with two solo shots over the last three games.
After facing each other Thursday, the Yankees and Red Sox won't meet again until opening a four-game set on July 3 at Yankee Stadium.