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Red Sox Notebook

Yankee series matchups set

Beckett to face his idol, Clemens

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."

Season for the ages
There is only one pitcher 40 and older in Red Sox history who has won more games in a season than Tim Wakefield, and you have to go back a century to find him.

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.

Striking turnaround
Last season, Beckett gave up 36 home runs, tied for second most in the majors. This season, he has allowed just 10. Only two pitchers in the American League who have thrown 150 innings or more have given up fewer than Beckett, who has thrown 160 innings: Wang has allowed seven, and Kelvim Escobar of the Angels has given up eight. Pettitte has also allowed 10. In addition, when Beckett walked three straight batters in the first inning Friday, it was only the third time this season he had walked as many as three in a start. He walked four in five innings in his first start, April 4 in Kansas City, and three against the Yankees June 3. Only four AL pitchers with 150 innings or more have walked fewer than the 33 batters Beckett has walked this season: Joe Blanton of the Athletics and C.C. Sabathia of the Indians have walked 29, and James Shields of the Devil Rays and Carlos Silva of the Twins have walked 31.

Grade-A effort
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf gave manager Ozzie Guillen a grade of A in a radio interview, but added that he never expected the retooled White Sox of general manager Kenny Williams to fall to the depths they have. "His ability to reload the system with [pitching] arms, I thought it was uncanny the way he pulled it off," Reinsdorf said Friday on WSCR, in comments published by the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm certainly shocked and surprised, but so are most people in baseball. Most people thought we had a team that would contend, and we never were in it." Why did Reinsdorf give Guillen such a high grade? "It's much harder to manage a team when the players are not performing and to keep them playing hard," Reinsdorf said. "Most teams that were good teams and had high expectations, when they stink up the place and play poorly, there comes a point where they pack it in. They haven't packed it in, and give Ozzie credit." . . . Bobby Kielty, who had four RBIs, now has more RBIs (6) this month in 19 at-bats than J.D. Drew has (5) in 68 at-bats. Kielty just missed a home run in the eighth, the ball hitting off the glove of leaping center fielder Jerry Owens. "When I hit it, I thought it was going to be a home run," Kielty said. "I hit it maybe just a little bit too high." Drew struck out on three pitches as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

Gordon Edes can be reached at edes@globe.com.

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