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BOSTON (CBS) – The Red Sox-Phillies series is being touted as a possible fall preview, and the pitching matchups will not disappoint during the three-game set.
At least two of them shouldn’t.
On Tuesday Major League ERA leader Josh Becket (6-2) will get his first start in 12 days after battling the flu, going up against Phillies ace 1-A Cliff Lee (8-5). While Beckett leads everyone with a 1.86 ERA, Lee is coming off back-to-back complete game shutouts. The left-hander has not allowed a run in his last 22 innings, and has only given up one run in June.
“Cliff Lee is the kind of pitcher, he doesn’t waste pitches,” said Red Sox DH David Ortiz, who may be spared from facing Lee. ”That’s one thing I love with him. He’s not messing around. That’s why you see him pitch a lot of complete games.”
Beckett’s last time out came on June 15 when he shutout the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing just one hit in his nine inning gem. He has allowed just nine hits over his last 22 innings.
Wednesday will have John Lackey (5-6) opposed by Vance Worley. The 23-year-old Worley is 2-1 this season with a 2.83 ERA in five starts. He also made two appearances as a reliever. Lackey will look to bounce back from his first loss in his last four outings, when he went just 3.1 innings allowing five runs off four hits and four walks to the San Diego Padres.
The series finale on Thursday afternoon has as good a matchup as Tuesday’s. Jon Lester (9-4) will go against Cole Hamels (9-4) with both pitchers going for their 10th win of the season. Hamels has been just as good as Lee and Roy Halladay (who the Red Sox do not have to face during the series), posting a 2.51 ERA with 13 quality starts.
Needless to say, runs could be at a premiere during the series. The Red Sox offense, tops in the ML in average, runs and OBP, has already been slumping enough during the past five games. Having to go against Lee and Hamels over a three game set will not help their cause.