Perfect Beckett looks to take series
Boston (41-23) vs. Colorado (32-33), 7:05 p.m. ET
Josh Beckett's quest for a perfect season enters its 64th day on Thursday night.Perfection of this kind is an improbable goal for any starting pitcher, but it's one that Beckett's hero, Roger Clemens, managed to pursue through 14 straight wins at the start of the 1986 season. Clemens is a Yankee now, but he was a Red Sox then: young, driven and hard-throwing. Not so different, in other words, from the next Boston starter to win his first nine decisions in a season: Beckett, now newly efficient and, for much of the season, effortlessly dominant. Beckett spent the first five years of his seven-year professional career in the National League, where he compiled a 3.46 ERA in 609 innings. On Thursday, he faces the Senior Circuit's Colorado Rockies, just six days after shutting down the NL West's Arizona Diamondbacks through eight quiet innings. Beckett last faced Colorado on Aug. 8, 2005, at Coors Field in Denver, where he held the Rockies to two earned runs in six innings. These Rockies are an older, more mature outfit, retaining eight position players from that 2005 team, including Todd Helton and Matt Holliday. The Rockies counter with left-hander Jeff Francis, a former first-round Draft pick who has a 3.81 ERA. Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (9-0, 2.88 ERA)
Save for a mid-May DL stint with an avulsion on his pitching hand, Beckett has shown little trouble with American League opponents through two months. With his 10th win, Beckett would jump ahead of several fellow contenders for the All-Star Game starting spot, which includes pitchers like the Angels' John Lackey, Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia and Oakland's Dan Haren, whose 1.58 ERA is the league's best. COL: LHP Jeff Francis (5-5, 3.81 ERA)
Francis had a 6.52 ERA in April but has recovered with a 2.47 ERA and four wins since. In his last start at Baltimore, Francis got the loss, going seven innings and allowing four runs.
Player to watch
Only six current Red Sox have faced Francis. Of them, former Los Angeles Dodger J.D. Drew has three hits in seven at-bats.
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Friday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 5.25) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 6-6, 4.02), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 7-5, 4.52) vs. Giants (Matt Cain, 2-6, 3.31), 3:55 p.m. ET
Sunday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 6-7, 3.92) vs. Giants (Matt Morris, 7-3, 2.56), 2:05 p.m. ET
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.