May 14, 2011, 10:40 PM EDT
Josh Beckett entered Saturday’s game with a fine 11-7 career record against the Bombers, but it certainly hasn’t been easy. His ERA stood at 5.90, and he had given up 24 homers in 23 starts.
That’s why the Red Sox have to be thrilled about just how outstanding Beckett has been in two starts versus the Yankees this year. The 2010 version of Beckett was absolutely manhandled by the Yankees, giving up 29 runs and nine homers in 26 innings. He had a ridiculous 10.04 ERA in his five starts.
This year, Beckett has pitched 14 scoreless innings in two wins over the Yankees. He allowed four hits over six innings and struck out nine as part of Boston’s 6-0 win tonight.
Of course, that’s not all that has the Red Sox happy at the moment:
– Adrian Gonzalez homered again, giving him six in six games and eight in 13 games for the month of May. Tonight’s was a three-run blow in the seventh inning that put the game out of reach.
– Jacoby Ellsbury had two more hits, including a two-run double that put the Red Sox on the board against CC Sabathia in the fifth. He lost a 19-game hitting streak on Wednesday, but he’s collected four hits through the first two games against the Yankees, pushing his average up to .301.
– Jason Varitek contributed a key hit in front of Gonzalez’s homer tonight. After batting .091 in April, he’s suddenly contributing with five hits and three walks in his five starts this month.
– And perhaps best of all, the Yankees appear to be in some pretty serious disarray, with the Jorge Posada drama completely overshadowing the game tonight. Manager Joe Girardi, upset about a pitch that should have been called strike three in the aforementioned Varitek at-bat, was tossed from this one after Gonzalez homer. Even the typically unflappable Sabathia is struggling some at the moment, and no one in the lineup is hitting higher than .281.
Of course, the Red Sox shouldn’t get too cocky. The Yankees are still far and away first in the majors in homers, and their one explosion Sunday away from reclaiming the AL lead in runs scored. Plus, they’re still two games ahead of Boston in the standings.
But things are looking up for Boston. If Jon Lester can outduel Freddy Garcia and improve to 5-1 on Sunday, then the Red Sox will not only have completed a road sweep of their rivals, but they’ll have gotten to .500 for the first time all season.
And it will have taken only 40 games.
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