Boston Red Sox: Classic matchup tonight in Josh vs. Justin

As if last night’s pitching matchup wasn’t good enough, tonight’s game at Fenway Park pits two of the hottest pitchers in baseball doing battle against each other — Josh Beckett and Justin Verlander.

After Clay Buchholz and Phil Coke put on a pitching clinic last night in the Sox’ 1-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers, tonight’s matchup promises to be classic. Beckett’s 1.75 ERA currently leads the American League among eligible starters, and at home, he’s even nastier, with a 2-0 record and 0.34 ERA in four starts at Fenway. Beckett has also yet to give up a run in the month of May.

Verlander, on the other hand, has been hotter than Hades of late as well, with a 2-0 record and 1.57 ERA in May, including the second no-hitter of his career against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, when asked how to best attack Verlander, said patience will be the key.

“With Verlander, sometimes you’ve got to pick a pitch, because I don’t know that you can hit both speeds,” Francona told Michael Vega of the Boston Globe. “You’re talking about a guy who can hit 100 and he’s got off-speed pitches that are good. You’ve got to see what he’s doing, first of all, but it sounds to me like he feels pretty good about himself. Make him work hard and maybe get him out of the game early, get him to make a mistake and don’t miss it.’’

The Red Sox, winners of five straight, are now just two and a half games behind the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.

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