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Red Sox vs. Rays Match-Ups, 4/30

04.30.09 at 2:36 pm ET
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The last two ALCS MVPs take the mound tonight in the Tropicana Dome, where the Rays and Red Sox will renew the southern leg of their budding rivalry in the American League East. In terms of pure stuff, Josh Beckett (the 2007 ALCS MVP) and Matt Garza (who claimed the honor in 2008) are as impressive as any pitchers in the American League East, a notion that is reflected to a large degree by the types of numbers that they have against their opponents tonight.

RAYS VS. JOSH BECKETT

Josh Beckett (2-1, 6.00 in 2009), of course, was a force in the 2007 ALCS against the Indians, a form that he appeared ready to resume when he dominated the Rays (7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 10 strikeouts) in the season opener. Yet while many concluded that Beckett was ready to use that Opening Day outing as a point of departure for a return to his 2007 levels of dominance, to date, that form has not held. In three subsequent starts, he’s allowed 15 earned runs in 17 innings, allowing 24 hits and an uncharacteristic 10 walks in that time.

Though a couple of Rays – most notably Akinori Iwamura – have solid numbers against Beckett, several key members of their lineup (Pat Burrell, Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena) have abysmal regular-season histories against him:

Pat Burrell (43 career plate appearances): .158 average / .256 OBP / .158 slugging / .414 OPS
Akinori Iwamura (27): .333 / .407 / .500 / .907
Carl Crawford (26): .280 / .269 / .320 / .589
Dioner Navarro (23): .136 / .174 / .136 / .310
Carlos Pena (22): .150 / .227 / .350 / .577
Jason Bartlett (20): .316 / .350 / .421 / .771
Gabe Gross (17): .067 / .176 / .267 / .443
Evan Longoria (15): .267 / .267 / .533 / .800
B.J. Upton (12): .250 / .250 / .333 / .583
Willie Aybar (3): 2-for-3, triple

RED SOX VS. MATT GARZA

Like Beckett, Matt Garza (1-2, 4.97) looked ready to build upon the momentum of his playoff excellence to forge a monster season when he shut down the Sox (7 innings, 1 run) in his first start of the season, then did the same (7 innings, 2 runs) against the Yankees in his second outing. But he’s gotten hit hard in his last two outings, allowing 11 runs in 11.1 innings against the White Sox and A’s.

Of course, a return to A.L. East competition offers Garza something of a comfort zone (surprisingly enough). Against Tampa’s four A.L. East foes, he has a career 13-6 record and 3.01 ERA, including a 4-1 record and 3.40 regular-season mark against the Sox. Most of the right-handed members of the Sox lineup have fared poorly against Garza, while left-handers Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz (who has homered twice against Garza) have enjoyed varying degrees of success against the Rays pitcher:

Dustin Pedroia (19 career plate appearances):. .167 average / .211 OBP / .222 slugging / .433 OPS
Jacoby Ellsbury (18): .438 / .500 / .438 / .938
Kevin Youkilis (17): .214 / .353 / .286 / .639
Mike Lowell (15): .133 / .133 / .333 / .466
David Ortiz (14): .167 / .286 / .667 / .953
J.D. Drew (11): .250 / .364 / .750 / 1.114
Jason Varitek (8): .143 / .250 / .143 / .393
Julio Lugo (6): .200 / .333 / .200 / .533
Jason Bay (3): .333 / .333 / 1.000 / 1.333

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