The night after a 13-6 thumping of the Red Sox, the Yankees will see a familiar matchup: Josh Beckett vs. A.J. Burnett. The two former Marlins have faced off twice this year, with Burnett bearing the brunt of the beating both times. Beckett disposed of the Yankees handily in the latter of those encounters, striking out eight and allowing just one hit over six innings. The earlier one was a slugfest which saw Beckett surrendering eight runs over five innings. Beckett also recorded a quality start, six innings and three runs, in a start against Joba Chamberlain, sandwiched between the two Burnett battles.
We all know who Josh Beckett is by now and how the got to this point. So let’s catch up from when we last saw him. After that eight strikeout appearance, Beckett was 7-2 with a 3.77 ERA, 76 strikeouts to 32 walks in 76.1 innings. Since then he’s been even better, going 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 56 and walking just seven in 66.2 IP. This includes two complete game shutouts, one against the Braves and the other against the Royals. Opponents have hit just .237 against him in that span with a .262 OBP and .343 SLG.
Burnett’s been no slouch since his last duel with Beckett, in which he lasted just two and two-thirds innings, allowing five runs, three earned, and walking five. He’s pitched 58.1 innings in that span, going 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA, 51 strikeouts to 28 walks. Opponents are hitting Burnett even worse than Beckett, to the tune of a .218 BAA and .296 SLG, though his OBP is a bit higher because, well, Burnett walks dudes.
The hope in round three is that it looks like a reversal of round two. Since Beckett is pitch so well, a pitchers’ duel is the more likely scenario. After last night, I could use one of those.
Just in case you missed it, both teams made a few moves today. The Yankees swapped Anthony Claggett for Ramiro Pena, giving them another pinch running threat in addition to Hairston. The Red Sox predictably DFA’d Billy Traber, and then surprisingly DFA’d John Smoltz. It’s bittersweet to see his career end on a night like last. The Red Sox promoted RHP Junichi Tazawa to take Smoltz’s place, and claimed Chris Woodward off waivers in Traber’s. That’s because Jed Lowrie was hurt last night, though as of now he hasn’t been placed on the DL.
And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett