Monday, August 6, 2012
Week ahead: at Fenway, home vs. Detroit
By Richard Durrett
Despite a Sunday game filled with miscues against the Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers march into Fenway Park with a 5 1/2-game lead on the Oakland A's and six games head of the Los Angeles Angels. Here's a look at some things to watch this week (we will be having in-game chats for all three games):
* The Rangers' offense, which was sluggish for about two months, has started to put together better at-bats with runners in scoring position and to execute better. Earlier this season, that offense lit up Fenway Park to the tune of 24 runs in a two-game set in April, including an 18-3 win April 17.
* Ian Kinsler should be fresh after getting Sunday off. He has a four-game hitting streak and is 10-for-19 (.526) in that span.
* Mike Olt continues to impress at the plate. He's having good at-bats, fighting to get counts in his favor and delivering big hits in key situations. He's likely also fighting a few nerves. He struck out with the bases loaded in the 10th inning Sunday and then threw the ball away for an error that allowed the winning run to score in the bottom half. That's all part of the learning experience. But he's provided a spark and is someone to watch at Fenway Park.
* Yu Darvish looks to get on track. Since the start of July, he's 1-3 with a 6.82 ERA (five starts) with 20 walks and 39 strikeouts. But he's never faced the Red Sox and has performed well against teams he's faced for the first time.
* The Red Sox avoided a sweep Sunday with a victory over the Twins. But they are one game under .500 and fighting to stay in range of one of the wild-card spots. They are 4 1/2 games behind Oakland and Detroit, who currently hold those spots.
* Josh Beckett's back spasms appear to be OK, and he's slated to pitch Wednesday against the Rangers in an afternoon game.
* The Rangers won't see David Ortiz, who is still on the disabled list. But they will have to contend with Adrian Gonzalez. The former Ranger is hitting .304 with 11 homers and 66 RBIs. Gonzalez had a good July: .372 average and 19 RBIs.