Common bond

Tonight’s starting pitchers — Josh Beckett and Randy Johnson — might be worlds apart on opposite ends of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, but they have some interesting World Series ties.

Both the Big Unit (with Arizona in 2001) and Beckett (with the Marlins in 2003) were named World Series MVPs, and both did it on teams that beat the Yankees for the title. Johnson was 3-0 with a mind-boggling 1.04 ERA with Arizona in 2001 to share MVP honors with his former co-ace, Curt Schilling. Beckett, who in 2003 won the clinching Game 6 in Yankee Stadium, was 1-1 with an equally impressive 1.10 ERA for Florida.

Johnson and Beckett are also responsible for the last two complete-game shutouts in World Series play: Johnson on Oct. 28, 2001, in Game 2 in Arizona, and Beckett on Oct. 25, 2003, in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. They have also combined to win the deciding games in two of the last five Fall Classics: Johnson in relief on Nov. 11, 2001, in Game 7, and Beckett in that complete-game shutout in the Bronx in 2003.


Johnson and Beckett faced each other once previously, on Aug. 4, 2004 in Arizona. Beckett allowed eight runs (five earned) in Florida’s 11-6 loss, while Johnson recorded the win despite allowing five runs on seven hits in six innings. In that game, current Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez, then with the Marlins, belted a three-run homer off Johnson in the sixth inning.

Manny’s time to shine
If the Yankees plunk David Ortiz (one New York columnist suggested they back him off the plate), there’s a Yankee Killer waiting in the wings.

Sox slugger Manny Ramirez has six home runs and 18 RBIs against the Bronx Bombers since the start of 2005. Over his career, Ramirez has 41 homers against the Yankees, tied for third most by any New York opponent since 1960. Former Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski is first with 52 homers, and controversial slugger Rafael Palmeiro had 47 long balls. Manny has hit 23 career homers at Yankee Stadium, tying him with Palmeiro for the most by a visiting player between 1960 and 2006.

The Sox and Yankees have met 72 times (regular season and postseason combined) over the last three seasons, with Boston owning a 37-35 edge.

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