By Joe McDonald
BOSTON _ In true cowboy fashion, Josh Beckett prepared for his overnight flight to Tampa by wearing roper boots with his No. 19 and the Red Sox logo stitched into the leather.
Boston's right-hander is scheduled to get the ball for Game Six of the American League Championship Series in St. Petersburg on Saturday. He has struggled badly this postseason, unlike his past October prowess, but the next time he toes the rubber against the Rays it could be an entirely different story.
"Josh is the last guy I would worry about," said David Ortiz. "The guy knows how to fight back. He's smart and has good stuff. We count on Josh no matter what happens and we believe he's going to come out strong."
If Beckett can return to his normal postseason form, the Rays will get lefty sensation Jon Lester in Game Seven.
"Those are the guys we want going," said Dustin Pedroia. "They're our horses. They get Josh first and we need to try to find a way to win that game [to get to Lester]."
Beckett will face Tampa's ace James Shields, but the Red Sox are confident the real Josh Beckett will show up.
"We couldn't pick a better pitcher to have on the mound in Josh," said Red Sox backup catcher Kevin Cash. "I don't care what he's done his last two outings, everybody knows Josh Beckett and what he's done in the postseason, so we're a very confident team right now."
"We know that Josh will show up ready to go," said rookie Jed Lowrie. "All we can do is win."