CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Beckett looks to continue perfection

Beckett looks to continue perfection

Well, that was easy. On Tuesday, Josh Beckett pitched as if his 16-day disabled list stint with an avulsion to the middle finger of his right hand had been an extended Memorial Day vacation.

Not so, said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. As quietly as Beckett dispatched the Cleveland Indians, one of baseball's offensive powerhouses, by methodically mixing his three primary pitches for strikes, rest did not make his success.

"He worked really hard to give himself a chance to be the same pitcher he was," Francona said. "He threw a lot, he did some simulating innings and [he] came back and threw the ball very well."

On Sunday at 8:05 p.m. ET, Beckett must face the New York Yankees and fellow Texan Andy Pettitte. At 8-0, Beckett is the first Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to win his first eight decisions, and the 10th in Red Sox history.

Pettitte, who played high school baseball at Texas' Deer Park High, owns a 2.51 ERA, the fourth-best figure in the American League. Beckett, a Spring, Texas, native, is fifth, at 2.65.

Beckett's AL learning curve: one year. The 26-year-old veteran, who made the difficult switch to Boston from Florida last year, appears to have carved himself a place among the league's elite starters.

"I'm proud of him," said Pettitte, who, like Beckett, owns a ranch in south Texas. "He's doing a great job. And he's learning how to pitch. He's got an unbelievable arm."

Yankees Coverage
Jeter's late homer lifts Yanks
Yanks gear up for lesser opponents
Chamberlain springs curve on Sox
Notes: Peace of mind for Posada

Red Sox Coverage
Schilling's gem ends with loss
Bauman: Game mirrors Classic duel
Sox don't take lead for granted
Notes: Matsuzaka pushed back
Season Series
Yankees win 10-8
• 9/16: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
• 9/15: Red Sox 10,Yankees 1
• 9/14: Yankees 8, Red Sox 7
Previous season series
2006: Yankees 11, Red Sox 8
2005: Yankees 10, Red Sox 9
2004: Red Sox 11, Yankees 8

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (8-0, 2.65 ERA)
It's not 2003 anymore. Beckett has been through plenty since his dominant World Series Game 6 performance against the Yankees. Relocated from Florida to Boston in 2006, where Beckett was hammered by New York, Beckett has rediscovered the subtleties of pitching and rolled off eight straight wins to start the 2007 season. In his first start against the Yankees this year, Beckett allowed a season-high four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, but still won the game.

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (3-4, 2.51 ERA)
Pettitte's worst performance of the season came against Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox on April 27, when he allowed five earned runs and 11 baserunners in 4 2/3 innings. Were it not for that line, Pettitte would have a 2.01 ERA in 71 2/3 innings for the season, second best in the league.

Player to watch
Yankees manager Joe Torre called Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez a "sleeping giant" before Saturday's game. That characterization might well have come too late: Ramirez batted .327 with a .577 slugging percentage in May, and is off to a scorching start in June. He has tormented Pettitte over his long career, batting .418 with 11 extra-base hits against the southpaw in 67 career at-bats.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• ESPN

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM, Spanish Baseball Network (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 5.40) at Athletics (Dan Haren, 6-2, 1.64), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 7-3, 4.83) at Athletics (Lenny DiNardo, 1-2, 1.80), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 5-6, 4.24) at Athletics (Joe Kennedy, 1-4, 3.30), 10:05 p.m. ET

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

{}
{}