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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Phil Hughes

08.31.11 at 2:25 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Yankees play the middle game of a three-game series Wednesday night at Fenway Park as the two bitter rivals fight for home field advantage in the playoffs. Boston will turn to Josh Beckett, who looks to continue his hot streak despite making his first start in a week. New York will hope Phil Hughes can turn things around against the Red Sox, as the young right-hander is winless against Boston this season.

Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA) is in the middle of his worst month of 2011 so far, which is hard to believe considering he’s 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in August. The one major blemish came against the Mariners on Aug. 13, when Beckett allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings. His four other outings this month were all quality starts and Red Sox wins.

One of those quality starts came against the Yankees on Aug. 7, when Beckett gave up just one run over six innings. He also held the Rangers to one run over six innings in his last start, a 13-2 win over Texas last Wednesday. One point of concern may be the home run numbers against Beckett; he’s given up at least one longball in each of his last seven starts, including two against the Indians and two against the Mariners. His 16 home runs allowed are the 28th most in the American League.

Beckett has dominated the Yankees in four starts this season, going 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA. The Red Sox haven’t lost to the Yankees in a Beckett start since last August. The 31-year-old wasn’t nearly as successful against New York in 2010, when he went 1-2 with a 10.04 ERA in five starts. Of course, an injury-riddled season left Beckett with a 5.78 ERA for the entire year, compared to his current ERA of 2.43, which ranks fourth in the majors.

The Boston starter has only lost once at Fenway Park this season, a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Royals on July 28. The game was lost in the fourth inning, when Kansas City scored all four runs thanks to a three-run homer and a fielding error by Drew Sutton. Despite the loss, Beckett is still 4-1 with a 1.95 ERA at home.

The Yankees are hitting .264 with 18 home runs in 543 plate appearances against Beckett. Bobby Abreu is the only player in major league history to have faced the right-hander more than Derek Jeter, and the long-running Jeter-Beckett showdown has yet to find a decisive victor. In 93 matchups, Jeter is hitting .291 with four doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and twelve strikeouts. Robinson Cano is the only Yankee with a batting average over .300 against Beckett, as he’s hitting .324 with eight doubles and three home runs in 75 plate appearances. Cano isn’t the only Yankee with good power numbers against the Boston starter, as Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson also have three home runs against Beckett, while Mark Teixeira has two.

The cards will be stacked against Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA) when he takes the mound against the Red Sox ace. The right-hander hasn’t recorded a win against the Red Sox since May 7, 2010, and that was thanks to a 10-run performance from the Yankees offense. It’s been a miserable season for Hughes, as his ERA has never been lower than 5.75 all year.

The 25-year-old has struggled to find a rhythm because of a three-month stint on the disabled list. After showing depleted velocity and allowing 16 runs in his first 10 innings of the season, Hughes was sent to the DL with a shoulder injury. He pitched two of those first 10 innings against the Red Sox on April 8, allowing six runs on seven hits to give Boston its first win of the season.

Earlier this month, Hughes managed to pitch back-to-back quality starts for the first time all year, holding the Twins and Rays under three runs over six-plus innings. However, the streak was snapped by the A’s in his last start, when Hughes allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings. The Yankees still managed a win, thanks to a league-record three grand slams.

In his last appearance against the Red Sox, Hughes came on to pitch the 10th inning at Fenway Park in a 2-2 game on Aug. 7. After yielding a one-out double to David Ortiz, Hughes gave up a walk-off single to Josh Reddick and took his fourth loss of the year. It wasn’t the first time the right-hander struggled at Fenway Park; over the last three years, Hughes is 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA in Boston.

As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .256 with two home runs in 104 combined plate appearances against Hughes. Ortiz is batting .467 with a home run, three triples and five RBIs in 18 matchups, while Jacoby Ellsbury is 3-for-6 with a double and two walks. Although Boston’s lefties have done well against Hughes, right-handed hitters like Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro have struggled. Pedroia is hitting .200 with a home run and three strikeouts in 17 plate appearances, and Scutaro is at .199 with two strikeouts in his team-high 23 matchups with Hughes.

Yankees vs. Beckett

Derek Jeter (95 plate appearances): .291 BA/.337 OBP/.407 SLG, 4 doubles, 2 home run, 9 RBIs, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (75): .324/.387/.574, 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 12 RBIs, 5 walks

Alex Rodriguez (69): .262/.348/.475, 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 11 RBIs, 7 walks

Mark Teixeira (56): .191/.321/.319, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, 9 walks, 19 strikeouts

Jorge Posada (55): .238/.333/.452, 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, 6 walks, 13 strikeouts

Andruw Jones (42): .270/.357/.297, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (35): .206/.229/.235, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Curtis Granderson (35): .267/.371/.633, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 4 RBIs, 4 walks

Eric Chavez (14): .214/.214/.286, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Francisco Cervelli (8): 2-for-7, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Russell Martin (8): 2-for-7, 1 strikeout

Bartolo Colon (3): 1-for-3, 2 strikeouts

Eduardo Nunez (2): 1-for-2, 1 home run, 1 RBI

Red Sox vs. Hughes

Marco Scutaro (23 plate appearances): .190 BA/.261 OBP/.190 SLG, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Carl Crawford (18): .133/.278/.133, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

David Ortiz (18): .467/.500/.867, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (17): .200/.294/.467, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (8): 3-for-6, 1 double, 2 walks

Darnell McDonald (5): 1-for-5, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (5): 0-for-4, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (3): 0-for-2, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Mike Aviles (2): 0-for-2

Adrian Gonzalez (2): 1-for-2, 1 RBI

Josh Reddick (2): 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1): 1-for-1

Read More: Josh Beckett, Phil Hughes, Red Sox, Yankees
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