W2W4: A quick trip to Fenway Park

April, 17, 2012
4/17/12
8:00
AM CT


The Texas Rangers begin a two-game series tonight in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox. It's the first of four series against teams many consider to be contenders for the American League crown this season -- at Boston (2), at Detroit (4), vs. NYY (3), vs. Tampa Bay (3). A few things to keep an eye on:

PODCAST
There are some storm clouds brewing for the Rangers and it has to do with the back of the rotation. Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz are taxing the bullpen and it could be time to move Yu up to third and Matt Harrison to fourth in the rotation.

Listen Listen
* Mike Napoli. The catcher has gotten off to a slow start. But sometimes one swing can get a player rolling. Will Napoli's home run in Minnesota on Sunday be that swing? Maybe. He was just 1-for-8 in the series at Target Field before the fifth-inning homer and is batting just .125 (3-for-24) this season. In 2011, Napoli had a stretch of 23 games in April and May where he hit just .115 before finally getting going in July and having a ridiculous second half.

* Bullpen. Joe Nathan got a save Sunday and it came as he was pitching on the second consecutive day. That was a trouble spot for Nathan the first week, so Sunday was a huge moment for him. He got Monday off with the rest of his team and should be ready to go in this series. The Rangers relievers performed well in Minnesota. They'll get a chance to take their act to Fenway Park now and that means Nathan could be on that mound closing games tonight or tomorrow (or both).

* Robbie Ross. He's 2-0 this season and still hasn't given up a run in his young big league career (3 2/3 innings). If he's been nervous, Ross has done a nice job of not letting it consume him. He's been getting hitters out on both sides of the plate and can pitch multiple innings. He could be a factor in the next few days.

* Josh Hamilton. He's hitting .390 and had the game-winning home run Sunday. And he likes Fenway Park. In Hamilton's career, the slugger is hitting .333 (22-for-66) with two homers and 16 RBIs in Boston.

* David Ortiz. The Red Sox slugger is pounding the ball. He's 16-for-36 (.444) with one homer and 10 RBIs. He also has six doubles.

* Fort Worth's Kelly Shoppach has played in just five games, but he's 5-for-14 (.357). ... As always, former Ranger Adrian Gonzalez and former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia are tough outs.

* Michael Young leads the Rangers with nine RBIs. And three of those RBIs are game-winning ones, which leads the AL.

* Lots of talk after Boston's loss to Tampa Bay on Monday about the Bobby Valentine-Kevin Youkilis stuff. Check it out here.

Be sure and join us for a live in-game chat tonight. The game starts at 6:10 p.m. And for Boston Red Sox information, do yourself a favor and check out the fine work at ESPNBoston.com.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Yu Darvish
WINS ERA SO IP
10 3.06 182 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAA. Beltre .327
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 68
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .880
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182