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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
How Beckett has dominated Yankees


If 2011 numbers are any indication, the Boston Red Sox have the right pitcher on the mound to even the series with the New York Yankees on Wednesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

Josh Beckett
Beckett
In his four starts against the Yankees this season, Josh Beckett is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA. In the past 35 years, only three pitchers have posted an ERA of 1.00 or lower against the Yankees with at least 25 innings: Felix Hernandez (0.35 in 2010), Chuck Finley (0.57 in 1996) and Mike Caldwell (0.99 in 1978).

The key to Beckett’s success? The heart of the Yankees' order -- the 3-4-5-6 hitters -- are a combined 2-for-32 (.063) with 15 strikeouts. The only two hits belong to Robinson Cano (2-for-9).

That level of dominance was hard to envision after Beckett’s Bronx struggles in 2010, when he posted a 10.04 ERA against the Yankees. That was the fifth-highest ERA against the Yankees in the past 50 seasons (minimum four starts).

Last season, left-handed batters on the Yankees hit .354 with eight home runs against Beckett. This season, he has been able to neutralize them: a .156 batting average and one home run.

Beckett will be going for his fourth win against New York this season, a rare feat among Red Sox pitchers. Al Nipper went 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Yankees in 1987, a season in which he won only seven other games. No Red Sox pitcher has won four against New York since, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

According to Elias, only three pitchers since 1995 have four wins against the Yankees in a season: Brett Cecil (4–0 in 2010), Roy Halladay (5–1 in 2008) and Chuck Finley (4–0 in 1996).

On the last day of August, Beckett looks for a positive end to a relatively shaky month. In five starts, he’s allowed seven home runs. Compare that to just nine in his first 20 starts. For his career, August is the only month in which Beckett has an ERA (4.53) over 4.00 or a record below .500 (18-20).

Beckett also looks to continue an impressive streak at home. In each of his first 11 starts at Fenway, he’s held the opponent to three runs or fewer. In the live ball era (since 1920), the Red Sox have had only two longer such streaks to start a season: Roger Clemens (15 in 1990) and Pedro Martinez (13 in 2000).