The Marlins plucked a baby-faced Texas kid second overall back in 1999 and it turned out to be a fruitful selection.
Josh Beckett made more than 100 starts for the Marlins and compiled a 41-34 mark with a 3.46 earned run average from 2001-05. Beckett was the 2003 World Series MVP, helping the young franchise capture its second title, then was traded to the Boston Red Sox and later won another title for the championship- starved ballclub.
Beckett will face his former team when he leads the Red Sox into Marlins Park this evening for the opener of a three-game series.
The right-hander has lasted at least seven innings in each of his past five starts, going 2-2 with a 2.21 earned run average in that time. Beckett dropped his second straight start in last Wednesday's 2-1 loss to AL East-rival Baltimore even though he pitched eight innings of two-run ball.
The Spring, TX native fell to 4-6 in 11 starts and lowered his ERA to 4.04. Beckett is 2-2 in four road outings this season.
A strong outing from Beckett would be quite useful for a Red Sox team that was just swept in three games by the Washington Nationals in front of the Fenway Park faithful and has dropped six of seven overall. Boston, which will also visit the Chicago Cubs for three games on this road trip, suffered a 4-3 loss in Sunday's series finale. Roger Bernadina doubled home Bryce Harper with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning off Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves.
Tyler Clippard took care of the hosts in the bottom half to record his eighth save, while Aceves was saddled with the defeat. Jon Lester started for Boston and pitched seven strong innings, giving up three runs, with nine strikeouts and two walks. David Ortiz homered and finished with three hits, Scott Podsednik had two hits and an RBI and Dustin Pedroia drove in the other run.
Boston was swept by the Nationals for the time since 1999, when the National League club still resided north of the border and was known as the Montreal Expos. The Red Sox are last in the AL East at six games off the pace.
"Nobody has been in this situation here. Nobody has lost before like this. It's all new," Lester said of the team's struggles on the club's website. "I can speak for myself: I hate going out there and losing, regardless of if I'm pitching or not. I know guys down there are frustrated and rightly so."
The Red Sox could get outfielder Daniel Nava back in the lineup tonight. He missed Sunday's game with a sore left hand in which he received a cortisone injection. Nava experienced discomfort on Saturday and played through the pain. Nava is batting .298 with two homers and 19 RBI this season.
Miami has fallen on hard times and was swept in consecutive three-game series by Atlanta and Tampa Bay to kick off a nine-game homestand. The Marlins lost, 4-2, in Sunday's series finale with the Rays and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez struggled through six innings. He allowed four runs and seven hits to fall to 3-5 on the season.
The Marlins have been outscored, 43-10, during their slide.
Logan Morrison had three hits, including two doubles, scored a run and added an RBI, while Gaby Sanchez knocked in the other run for Miami, which is five games behind Washington for the NL East lead. Sanchez was back in the lineup after he was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans on May 19. In 19 minor league games he batted .310 with three homers and 10 RBI. Sanchez's average dipped to .197 before being sent down.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton had a glorious May with a .343 average, 12 home runs, 23 runs scored and 30 RBI, but June has been a different story. Stanton is hitting just .242 in nine games this month to go along with only one homer and three RBI.
Josh Johnson is coming off a decent performance for the Marlins, but was saddled with the loss. He hopes to bounce back tonight in his 13th start of the season. The right-hander, who was shut down early last year because of a shoulder problem, pitched 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a 2-1 loss versus Atlanta last Wednesday. He matched a season high with nine strikeouts and walked three, and had won his last three decisions. Over his last seven starts, Miami has given Johnson 3.6 runs of support.
Johnson, who is 3-4 with a 4.56 ERA this season, pitched the most innings since Aug. 18, 2010 at Pittsburgh. He is 2-3 in seven home outings in 2012 and has made only one appearance in his career against the Red Sox in a 4-3 loss back on July 2, 2006. Johnson did not record a decision in that one and yielded three runs on four hits and four walks in seven innings.
The Marlins have lost seven straight series to the Red Sox since winning two of three in Boston in 1997. Miami is hosting Boston for the first time since the 2006 campaign.