W2W4: Rangers at Fenway Park
April, 7, 2014
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
After salvaging the final game of a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to Yu Darvish's sterling performance Sunday, the Texas Rangers head to Fenway Park for their only visit of the season. A few things to keep your eye on:
Tanner Scheppers. He made his first career start Opening Day, the first pitcher to do since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, but he didn't pitch like Fernando. He allowed seven runs on eight hits with three walks in four innings. And he got a no-decision. Can he bounce back in Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox? Scheppers said all the right things after his start and he has seemed relaxed since then. It will be interesting to watch him Monday night.
Prince Fielder. The slugger did not have a productive first week. Will being in Boston change that around? He's 21-for-57 (.368) with five home runs and 12 RBIs in his career there.
Beard talk. The Red Sox, famous for their beards during the title run in 2013, will get an up-close look at Elvis Andrus' Abe Lincoln beard. For those hoping he'd cut it off, the shortstop is hitting the ball well so far this season, so that isn't likely to happen. He's a career .275 hitter at Fenway Park with a .407 on-base percentage, the second-highest of any road park for him (Progressive Field is first).
Robbie Ross. He pitched out of trouble for much of his first start of the season and now pitches in a park where his last appearance -- June of last year -- wasn't a memorable one. He gave up a run on two hits with a walk in one-third of an inning in a 6-3 loss. Ross was pleased with how he hung in during his season debut. Let's see if he can build on that.
Patience. Shin-Soo Choo is turning it into an art. Heading into Sunday's game in Tampa, he was averaging 4.22 pitches per plate appearance, which was leading the Rangers and 30th in the American League. He saw 21 pitches in four appearances Sunday and 26 in five appearances Saturday. He has establishing the tone that he'll fight a pitcher deep into counts and see what he can do to get on base. And he's doing that, too.