(Sports Network) – If the Boston Red Sox are going to get back to the postseason, they are going to need Josh Beckett to start pitching like Josh Beckett. Then again they would be in even better shape if he starts to pitch like Seattle’s Felix Hernandez. Both hurlers will be on display today at Fenway Park, as the Red Sox and Mariners finish their three-game series with a day/night doubleheader.
The middle test of this set was postponed on Tuesday due to rain, making today’s doubledip necessary. Beckett will go in the first game and be opposed by David Pauley, while Hernandez toes the rubber in a terrific night cap against Jon Lester.
Beckett, though, has lost his last two decisions and has been hammered in his last three outings, surrendering 19 runs in his last 16 innings. The Angels battered him on Thursday for six runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 frames, dropping Beckett to 3-3, while ballooning his earned run average to 6.67.
“I think it probably has to do with bad pitches. You throw pitches in the middle of the plate you’re not going to get swings and misses,” Beckett said. “You might get foul balls occasionally but you’re not going to get swings and misses.”
If Beckett is going to get back on track Seattle may be the team to do it against. Besides the fact that they are 26 games under .500, Beckett has always had success against the Mariners, posting a 4-1 mark to go along with a 2.93 ERA in six starts.
Luckily he won’t be opposing Hernandez, who has not allowed an earned run in his last three starts, spanning 24 2/3 innings. He was sensational against the New York Yankees on Friday, scattering four hits in eight scoreless innings to run his record to a mere 9-10, while lowering his ERA to 2.51.
Hernandez is 3-1 lifetime against the Red Sox with a 3.17 ERA in seven starts.
Lester, meanwhile, will be trying to bounce back from one of the worst outings of his career on Friday in Toronto, as the Blue Jays battered him for nine runs and eight hits in just two innings. The loss stopped a two-start winning streak for Lester and dropped him to 13-8 on the year with a 3.26 ERA.
He lost to the Mariners back on July 24 and is 1-2 in six starts against them with a 4.58 ERA.
The Red Sox continued their postseason push on Monday when Marco Scutaro drove in four runs and John Lackey tossed eight solid innings, as Boston used a three-run seventh to pull out a 6-3 win. J.D. Drew and Victor Martinez each knocked in a run for the Red Sox, who have won three in a row and five of seven overall.
Lackey (12-7) gave up three runs — two earned — on six hits to win his second straight start. The right-hander also fanned a season-high 10 batters and walked two.
“I’ve been going deep in games, giving us a chance to win,” Lackey said. “Tonight, I felt really good.”
Casey Kotchman had two RBI for the Mariners, who have dropped three straight since a three-game win streak. Chone Figgins had three hits and scored a run.
Doug Fister (4-9) went 6 1/3 frames in the start, allowing five runs — two earned — on six hits. He also struck out six and walked one.
“They did what I wanted them to do, put it on the ground,” Fister said. “Unfortunately, it went in a couple of holes.”
Getting the call for the Mariners in the first game today will be right-hander David Pauley, who is 2-4 with a 3.70 ERA. Pauley won his second straight start on Wednesday in Baltimore, as he surrendered four runs and five hits in six innings.
This will be Pauley’s second-ever start against the Red Sox. He pitched parts of two seasons with the Red Sox, and is 0-2 lifetime with an 11.57 ERA at Fenway.
Boston, which is six games off the lead in both the AL East and wild card standings, has won three of its five meetings with the Mariners this season.