Beckett can give Boston a series win

Beckett can give Boston a series win

In separate games last season, Toronto's Vernon Wells slugged home runs off Josh Beckett.

In each of those games, Wells took Beckett deep twice. At season's end, Beckett -- who starts on Sunday against the Blue Jays -- had surrendered four of Wells' 32 home runs.

Simple multiplication reveals that Wells' 2006 home run rate against Beckett (four dingers in 15 at-bats), stretched to a full-season 611 plate appearances (Wells' average in his first five big-league seasons), results in an unrealistically crooked, if no less terrible number for Red Sox fans.

If Wells had batted solely against Beckett, one of six Boston All-Stars this year, would he have shattered the single-season home run record twice over? Would he have belted 163 home runs?

Not likely. But for Beckett, handing a loss to Wells' Blue Jays already this season is just one indication that his unfortunate 2006 debut season for Boston remains a distant memory. Now holding a 2-2 career record and a 5.25 ERA against Toronto, Beckett faces the Jays for a second time this season after comfortably shutting them down in May.

Beckett will start on a full four days' rest thanks to some rotational maneuvering. He pitched two strong innings at Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Francisco, and a win on Sunday would run his record to 13-2, best in the league.

The Blue Jays counter with 22-year-old sinkerballer Jesse Litsch, a rookie making his second start in place of the injured A.J. Burnett.

Pitching matchup
TOR: RHP Jesse Litsch (1-3, 4.74 ERA)
Litsch, whose bread-and-butter pitch, the sinker, earned him the call to replace Burnett in the rotation on July 3, pitched well in his first appearance in the Majors in more than a month, allowing two unearned runs in seven innings in a loss to Oakland. In three previous May starts, the rookie had been knocked around by the Phillies, Twins and Yankees.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (12-2, 3.44 ERA)
Beckett faced Toronto four times last year. He allowed three hits and one run in seven innings against the Jays on April 11, then went into a tailspin in three subsequent meetings, allowing 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. On May 8 of this year, he gave up just one earned run in seven innings at Toronto's Rogers Centre.

Player to watch
Wells went 1-for-3 against the Red Sox in that May 8 game. So far so good for Beckett in 2007.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Royals (Brian Bannister, 5-5, 3.71) at Red Sox (Kason Gabbard, 2-0, 4.87), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Royals (John Thomson, 1-1, 3.38) at Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 10-8, 4.47), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Royals (Odalis Perez, 4-8, 5.68) at Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 5-7, 5.15), 7:05 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.