Sox send Beckett to secure Angels set

Sox send Beckett to secure Angels series

A week ago, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were 5-1 and sitting atop the American League West, where they were supposed to be all along. Now, bruised by a weather-warped road trip that included a series in Milwaukee (against Cleveland), and may bring Monday morning rain (and possibly snow), they draw Josh Beckett.

Few starting pitchers have been as hot or as efficient in the early going of 2007. Beckett (2-0) was masterful in his last start, against Seattle, allowing one run in seven innings and striking out eight. He allowed exactly two hits in each of his first two starts.

"We just need [him] to continue what he's been doing," catcher Jason Varitek said. "And just add on it from there."

Beckett figures to match up nicely against the Angels, a free-swinging club that has floundered offensively after a confident start behind Vladimir Guerrero, the AL's first Player of the Week of 2007. Los Angeles has scored just 14 runs in its last six games, and has been held scoreless in its last 14 innings at Fenway Park after a vintage eight-inning, zero-run performance by Curt Schilling on Saturday afternoon.

"We're getting there," said Varitek of the state of Boston's starting rotation, adding, "We just want quality starts. And we're doing that. But I think we can be even better."

The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, seeks consistency after a bumpy start to the season. On Saturday, Boston jumped on Hector Carrasco, the Angels' rotation replacement for the injured right-hander Kelvim Escobar, but managed to push across only three earned runs until David Ortiz tacked a three-run blast on the end of an 8-0 victory.

Outfielders Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp, who have only three extra-base hits between them, will attempt to get on track against 24-year-old Ervin Santana, who has a 6.17 ERA in 11 career innings against the Sox.

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Ervin Santana (1-1, 6.35 ERA)
Santana has gotten off to a slow start in 2007, but don't let that ERA fool you: The right-hander is one of the game's best starting prospects. He didn't face the Red Sox last year, but compiled a 16-8 record in 204 innings as a 23-year-old last season and will help form the core of one of the AL's best rotations this season, if he stays healthy.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (2-0, 1.50 ERA)
If Beckett and Co. keep pitching they way they have, the Red Sox might not need a bullpen. Against dazzling early-season outings by rotation mates Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, Beckett's start against Seattle may have been the best. The 26-year-old fireballer threw 61 of his 84 pitches for strikes and mixed an assortment of breaking pitches -- including a hard curveball -- and a mid-90s fastball with ease.

Player to watch
Shortstop Julio Lugo drew a walk, added a hit and scored another two runs on Saturday, and appears to be settling into the leadoff role with a tidy .316 average and three steals through 10 games.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network

Up next
• Monday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 0-1, 9.00) vs. Angels (Jered Weaver, 11-2, 2.56 in 2006), 10:05 a.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-1, 2.57) at Blue Jays (Gustavo Chacin, 1-0, 4.91), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 1-1, 1.38) vs. Blue Jays (Tomo Ohka, 0-1, 7.84), 7:07 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.