|Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Josh Beckett vs. James Shields||07.15.12 at 7:27 am ET|
On Sunday afternoon the Red Sox look to begin shaking off their first-half mediocrity with a series win over division rival Tampa Bay.
This year, just as last, Josh Beckett‘s first post-All-Star break start comes against the Rays. However, that’s where the similarities to 2011 end. Last season, Beckett entered the All-Star break with an 8-3 record and a 2.27 ERA while the Sox already had recorded 55 wins, putting them 20 games over .500.
This year, Beckett limped into the break at just 4-7, with an ERA of 4.43. In his last outing, on July 6, the big righty was roughed up by the by the Yankees, giving up six runs on eight hits over just five innings.
If history is any indication of what to expect from Beckett in the second half, there is good news and bad for Sox fans. Let’s start with the bad: Over the last three seasons, the 32-year-old has been significantly worse post-All-Star break, as his ERA jumps nearly a full run, from 3.57 to 4.41, while opponent batting average spikes from .227 to .263.
The good news is that Beckett has pitched quite well at Tropicana Field. Over the last three seasons, Beckett is 1-1 with a 3.58 ERA in four games in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Rays are hitting a measly .184. His ratio of 29 strikeouts to three walks in those games is also among his best at any park.
Also good news for Beckett and the Sox: Tampa Bay has one of the worst offenses in the league, and against Beckett the Rays are even worse. In 223 plate appearances, this edition of the Rays is hitting just .213 with 44 hits and 55 strikeouts. One exception is Luke Scott, who has 11 hits in 27 at-bats (.407), including three home runs, along with eight RBIs and five walks.
Starting opposite Beckett is James Shields. The 30-year-old righty has an impressive 8-5 record, but his ERA has climbed to 4.17 while the Rays are just 3-5 in his last eight starts.
Shields throws a fastball, changeup, curveball and slider and relies heavily on his offspeed pitches. In fact, Shields throws his fastball just 43 percent of the time, which makes some sense given opponents are hitting .316 against it.
In the 13 games he’s played against Boston over the last three years, Shields is 5-8 with a 4.33 ERA. Boston’s current lineup is hitting a collective .270 in 225 plate appearances, with eight home runs and 30 RBIs. Half of those RBIs come from David Ortiz, whose 15 hits include nine doubles and three home runs.
Red Sox vs. Shields (RHP)
David Ortiz (56 plate appearances): .306/.393/.673, 9 doubles, 3 home runs, 15 RBIs, 7 walks, 7 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (45): .238/.289/.405, 1 double, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Ryan Sweeney (24): .391/.391/.609, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 strikeouts
Adrian Gonzalez (23): .300/.391/.450, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Nick Punto (18): .286/.444/.286, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Cody Ross (18): .353/.389/.471, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 2 strikeouts
Mike Aviles (16): .267/.313/.467, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13): .000/.077/.000, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Daniel Nava (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Kelly Shoppach (6): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts
Rays vs. Beckett (RHP)
Carlos Pena (38 plate appearances): .114 BA/.184 OBP/.257 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 3 walks, 18 strikeouts
Hideki Matsui (37): .257/.297/.571, 1 triple, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
B.J. Upton (36): .206/.229/.294, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Luke Scott (32): .407/.500/.741, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts
Jose Molina (29): .179/.179/.179, 1 RBI, 8 strikeouts
Ben Zobrist (26): .087/.154/.087, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Desmond Jennings (7): .429/.429/.429, 3 singles
Jeff Keppinger (7): .429/.429/.571, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeouts
Sean Rodriguez (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeouts
Jose Lobaton (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeouts
Elliot Johnson (2): .000/.000/.000
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