Tigers-Red Sox Preview

Josh Beckett doesn’t have a no-hitter under his belt this season

like counterpart Justin Verlander, but he continues to dominate

hitters in his own right.

He’s been just as successful against the Detroit Tigers in

recent years.

Beckett and Verlander oppose each other Thursday night as the

surging Boston Red Sox host Detroit.

Beckett (3-1, 1.75 ERA) hasn’t lost since his April 5 season

debut, slowing the opposition in nearly every subsequent outing.

The right-hander allowed four hits and two walks in six innings of

Saturday’s 6-0 victory over the New York Yankees. It marked the

third straight start without allowing a run for Beckett, who

extended his scoreless streak to 18 1-3 innings.

“That’s probably the best cutter I’ve seen him have in a while.

Changeup – he used all his pitches,” manager Terry Francona said.

“We have a lot of confidence in him. We always have. He worked hard

and said last year he was going to come back with a vengeance, and

I think he has.”

Beckett should have plenty of confidence taking the mound

against Detroit. He’s 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his last three starts

against the Tigers, though he hasn’t faced them since 2009.

Another victory over Detroit would give the Red Sox (22-20) a

season-high six-game winning streak. Boston has gone 20-10 since a

2-10 start that’s becoming an increasingly distant memory.

The Red Sox fought through a 26-minute rain delay Wednesday to

win 1-0. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s double in the eighth inning drove

in Carl Crawford with the game’s only run.

“We certainly didn’t bludgeon them to death (Wednesday), but

Salty took a terrific swing. He’s a big strong kid,” Francona

said. “Carl put it in another gear because, off the bat, I don’t

think that’s … sure that he’s going to be able to score and we

made it hold up.”

The Tigers (22-20), who went hitless in 10 at-bats with runners

in scoring position, have lost two straight following a seven-game

winning steak.

Verlander (4-3, 2.91 ERA) won twice during that run, including

his second career no-hitter against Toronto on May 7.

Attempting to match Johnny Vander Meer’s feat of pitching

back-to-back no-hitters in 1938, Verlander held Kansas City hitless

Friday until a two-out single in the sixth inning ended his chance

of duplicating the mark.

The right-hander wound up allowing one run and two hits through

eight innings of a 3-1 victory.

“If I can maintain this rhythm, the stuff I’ve got right now,

it’s going to be pretty tough for hitters,” Verlander said.

Verlander is 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in five career starts against

the Red Sox, including 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA in four outings in

Boston.

The Red Sox have won six of the last eight meetings between

these clubs at Fenway Park.