CHICAGO -- Barring any rainouts here or in Detroit over the next couple of days, the pitching matchups have been set for the Red Sox-Yankees series that opens Tuesday night in the Bronx.
It will be Andy Pettitte against Daisuke Matsuzaka in the opener, Roger Clemens vs. Josh Beckett Wednesday night, and Chien-Ming Wang vs. Curt Schilling Thursday afternoon.
It will be the first time Beckett has faced Clemens, the pitcher he idolized growing up in Spring, Texas. In the 2003 World Series, when Beckett was with the Florida Marlins and Clemens was with the Yankees, Beckett, the MVP of the Series, pitched against Mike Mussina and Pettitte; Clemens drew Carl Pavano.
"When I was younger, I used to try to pitch like him in the street when we were playing home run derby," Beckett said during the '03 Series of Clemens.
"My dad worked with his brother in the oil fields, and [Clemens] actually signed a ball for me. I was about 11 or 12. I've got probably a whole binder full of his baseball cards."
Cy Young won 21 games in 1907, when he was 40, and 21 again the next season. Wakefield, who earned his 16th win yesterday afternoon, has an outside chance of becoming one of just six pitchers to win 20 or more games in a season after turning 40: Young, Warren Spahn (23 when he was 42, 21 when he was 40), Jamie Moyer (21 when he was 40), Phil Niekro (21 when he was 40), and Grover Cleveland Alexander (21 when he was 40). Spahn, Alexander, and Niekro are in the Hall of Fame; Moyer, 44, is still pitching for the Phillies, and has a record of 11-10 this season.
With Doug Mirabelli on the shelf with a strained calf, Wakefield's last two outings have come with Pawtucket call-up Kevin Cash behind the plate.
"I'm very comfortable throwing to him," Wakefield said. "He caught me on the side in spring training, and I thought he had pretty good hands. For what he's been asked to do, he's done a tremendous job so far."
Cash has exceeded Wakefield's expectations after a rough couple of innings against the Devil Rays last Monday night. "He made a couple of adjustments," Wakefield said. "He's also done a good job of calling the game. We've been on the same page. I can't say enough for him, catching the second game of the doubleheader [Friday] night, then coming out and catching me."
In his last three starts, Wakefield is 3-0 with a streak of 22 scoreless innings. His 16 wins match Beckett for most in the majors. Since June 12, Wakefield has 11 wins, most in the majors, and has a decision in all 26 of his starts. That's the longest streak since Jack McDowell of the White Sox recorded a decision in his first 27 starts in 1993.
Gordon Edes can be reached at email@example.com.