A couple of predictions before tonight’s ballcrushingly excellent Beckett-Unit match-up:

1) Expect a hit batter. Or two.
I think it’s pretty safe to speculate that, like prom night at East Boston High, someone’s goin’ down. With the prospects of facing Beckett and the Unit — two emotional types who will only get more emotional as the emotional impact of this rivalry tugs at their emotions — I’m sure there are Yankee and Sox hitters who are, even as I type this, adding extra layers of tape to their knees, thighs and precious buttocks; stocking up on mouthguards and elbow pads; and closely examining their batting helmets for any vulnerabilities. If the Sox bring in Tavarez at any point, expect gunplay.

2) Both starting pitchers will be out before the fifth inning.
That’s a bold prediction, but I feel it in my soul. I remember getting all jazzed up for Rocket vs. Pedro during the 1999 ALCS, only to see Rog hit the showers before I’d drained my first Pabst. Ever since then, I’ve approached these “marquee match-ups” with a sense of caution. This is not to say that there haven’t been some absolutely killer pitching duels that went the distance in recent years. It just means I’m accepting of the idea that I may end up with Rudy Seanez vs. Ron Villone.

3) Wily Mo Pena will be the hero.
Pena began his career as a highly-regarded prospect with the Yankees, and was then traded away to Cincinnati. So now, like the one-time nerdy chick who shows up at the high school reunion to shake her aerobicized ass at the jocks who wouldn’t date her, Pena has a chance to show the New York brass what they could have had. I’m hoping he tales advantage of the opportunity, although I will say that if Wily Mo engages in any ass-shaking himself, I’m flipping over to American Idol.