Tuesday, June 4, 2013
W2W4: Rangers-Red Sox
By Todd Wills
BOSTON -- The Rangers and Boston Red Sox will meet again as the teams with the best records in the American League.
Boston came into Arlington in early May with the best record in baseball and the Rangers swept the Sox, outscoring them 16-4. The Rangers, who have won five straight games overall against Boston, come into Tuesday's game with the American League's best record at 35-21. The Red Sox are 35-23.
The pitching matchups are tasty, capped by a battle of left-handers Thursday night as the Rangers' Derek Holland (5-2, 2.28) faces six-game winner Jon Lester (6-2, 3.53). On Tuesday night, it's Rangers rookie right-hander Justin Grimm (5-3, 3.93) against Ryan Dempster (2-6, 4.45), and Wednesday brings Alexi Ogando (4-2, 3.08) off the disabled list to face Texas native John Lackey (3-5, 2.96). All three games start at 6:10 p.m.
Here's what to watch for:
1. Rangers domination: The Rangers have dominated the Red Sox since the start of the 2009 season, posting a 28-12 record against Boston. It may seem like it's been mostly in Arlington, but the Rangers also have played well at Fenway Park, going 12-6 during this stretch. The Rangers have won two straight and five of six games in Boston. The Rangers' .700 overall winning percentage and .667 winning mark at Fenway is by far the best among American League teams.
2. Cruz loves Fenway: Nelson Cruz should feel right at home in Fenway Park, where he is a career .417 hitter. Cruz has 25 hits in 60 at-bats (12 games) in Boston. It's the second-highest batting average all-time among all visiting players with at least 50 at-bats. An interesting aside, the top three spots are held by players who spent most of their AL time with the Rangers. Will Clark has the all-time best visiting batting average at Fenway with a .434 mark. After Cruz comes former Rangers catcher Geno Petralli, who batted .414 in Boston. Cruz massacres Boston pitching in general. He is batting .365 against the Red Sox, the highest average among active players with 100 or more at-bats.
3. More on Rangers' offense: The Rangers have crushed Red Sox pitching at Fenway, batting .338 in eight games since 2011. They have 18 home runs and 70 runs scored and have posted a 6-2 record during the stretch. The Rangers have scored 10 or more runs in four of the games, including 18 on April 17, 2012, the club's most runs ever in a game in Boston.
4. Top shortstop prospects: Rangers phenom Jurickson Profar, who enters Tuesday batting .324 in 10 games and is coming off a game-winning home run Sunday, isn't the only shortstop prospect making a statement to stay in the big leagues. Boston's Jose Iglesias is batting .424 with a .606 slugging percentage in 10 games since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. Iglesias is currently filling in at third base with the struggling Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list. Middlebrooks was batting .201 when he went on the DL with a back injury. Stephen Drew is expected to remain the everyday shortstop, which will leave the Red Sox with a decision to make if Iglesias stays hot, just like the Rangers with Profar when second baseman Ian Kinsler comes back.
5. Nava playing great: Outfielder Daniel Nava has been the Red Sox's unsung hero. He's batting .297 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs, boosting the Boston lineup with Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino on the disabled list.