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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Nick Blackburn

04.24.12 at 9:18 am ET
By

Josh Beckett

After finally notching a win following a five-game losing streak, the Red Sox will have a chance to win a series for just the second time this season when they face the Twins Tuesday night in Minnesota in the second game of a three-game series.

One of the biggest problems for the Red Sox this season has been their pitching, which, as a staff, ranks last in major league baseball with a 6.56 ERA. The Twins share some of the Red Sox’s pitching woes, however, as they rank second-worst in MLB with a 5.36 ERA.

With those pitching struggles weighing heavily on both teams, Josh Beckett and Nick Blackburn will take the mound Tuesday night looking to reverse their respective teams’ pitching fortunes.

Beckett is 1-2 this season, but his only poor outing was his first, when he gave up seven earned runs on seven hits and five home runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. In his most recent start, a 6-3 loss to the Rangers, Beckett tossed seven innings of three-run ball, allowing seven hits while walking one and striking out seven. The Red Sox, however, could not provide Beckett with any more run support, making him the hard-luck loser in the outing.

Beckett will be making just his second career appearance in Minnesota, where he is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. The outing will be his first at the three-year-old Target Field. In his last start against the Twins, Beckett saw his seven innings of scoreless baseball go to waste when the Red Sox fell in 11 innings, 2-1, on May 9 last season.

Of the seven Twins batters with five or more plate appearances against Beckett, only Jamey Carroll and Joe Mauer have averages over .300. Carroll is 6-for-18 with an RBI and two walks, while Mauer is 3-for-8 against Mauer with two doubles and an RBI.

Blackburn, who will be making his first start in 10 days after missing an outing due to a sore shoulder, will look to improve on his first two starts after running up a 5.56 ERA and an 0-1 record in 11 1/3 innings of work this season. Blackburn has not pitched terribly this season. Despite allowing seven hits over 5 1/3 innings of work in his most recent start, Blackburn allowed just two runs. The Twins lineup did not provide much support, however, as Minnesota has scored just three times in Blackburn’s two starts.

In his six-year career, Blackburn is 2-1 against Boston with a 3.21 ERA. He pitched very well against the Red Sox last season, earning a 0.69 ERA and striking out nine in two starts against Boston despite not factoring into the decision in either of his starts.

But regardless of Blackburn’s success last season, many members of the Red Sox lineup have hit well against him in their careers. Catcher Kelly Shoppach owns a .500 average against Blackburn with a double, three home runs and five RBIs, and so he is expected to get a rare start against a right-handed pitcher. Seven of the eight Red Sox batters with experience against Blackburn are hitting him at an above-.300 clip.

Red Sox vs. Blackburn (RHP)

Kelly Shoppach (17 plate appearances): .500 BA/.471 OBP/1.125 SLG, 1 double, 3 home runs, 5 RBIs, 3 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (16): .333 BA/.375 OBP/.467 SLG, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (15): .308 BA/.400 OBP/.385 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Ryan Sweeney (15): .231 BA/.333 OBP/.308 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

David Ortiz (13): .400 BA/.538 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 double, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mike Aviles (11): .500 BA/.545 OBP/.900 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Adrian Gonzalez (6): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Cody Ross (3): .500 BA/.667 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 walk

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (3): .000 BA/.000 OBP/.000 SLG, 2 strikeouts

Marlon Byrd (2): .500 BA/.500 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 single

Twins vs. Beckett (RHP)

Jamey Carroll (20 plate appearances): .333 BA/.400 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Justin Morneau (15): .286 BA/.333 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Sean Burroughs (10): .100 BA/.100 OBP/.100 SLG, 3 strikeouts

Joe Mauer (9): .375 BA/.444 OBP/.625 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Denard Span (9): .000 BA/.250 OBP/.000 SLG, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Clete Thomas (7): .000 BA/.143 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jason Marquis (5): .000 BA/.200 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Alexi Casilla (3): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 double

Danny Valencia (3): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 single

Josh Willingham (3): .500 BA/.667 OBP/.500 SLG, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

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