Two well-known cities. Two well-known teams. And definitely two well-known pitchers. Cliff Lee is set to square off with Josh Beckett as the Phillies begin a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday evening in a battle of high-profile stars. Both clubs have been raved about since before the start of the season as potential World Series contenders, and there is clearly no shortage of firepower with either organization. Both are looking to add to impressive records, though the Sox have taken quite a different road to their successful streak, beginning the 2011 campaign on a horrendous note.
Lee (8-5, 2.87 ERA) is going to try to complete his third consecutive shutout performance as the Phils' starting pitcher, though that definitely won't be easy against Boston's loaded offensive unit, which includes the powerful Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. Like his opponent on the hill, Beckett, Lee is a veteran of the Fall Classic, but he'll need to bring his high-quality "stuff" in order to contain the Bosox in tonight's opener.
Beckett, on the mound as the starter for Boston, leads Major League Baseball with an earned run average of just 1.86, and his pitching has been a main reason that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. took the time to stir up discussions and call the Red Sox the best team in baseball at the moment. The Phils are coming off a series against the Athletics in which they scored just five runs total, so they'll need to pick up the pace if they plan on overcoming Beckett.