Sox Welcome Rangers to Fenway Preview
Well before we get into looking to game 1 all Red Sox fans need to take a sigh of relief as we will NOT have to face Yu Darvish this series! Though I kind of wish we could see him and Buchholz duel to see the true AL Cy Young for now I just want wins. Both teams enter this series with 35 wins and many people realize that this could be a serious playoff possible series so teams will be going at it very much right till the last pitch. Jackie Bradley Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and is making a good impression in his second Major League stint unlike last time. In the five games since his return, Bradley has four hits and three runs in 12 at-bats. Overall, Boston's No. 2 prospect has played in 17 games with the Sox -- amassing seven hits and eight runs scored. He also has three RBIs. The Red Sox hope to get outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (left groin tightness) back for Tuesday's game. Ellsbury missed the entire three-game series against the Yankees. After being swept by the Rangers last time around earlier this season the Sox hope to get revenge as they have gone 12-28 since 2009.
Game 1: Ryan Dempster (2-6) vs. Justin Grimm (5-3)
The Rangers will get their first crack at former teammate Dempster. The 36-year-old spent two months with Texas last season. Dempster played in 12 games for the Rangers, going 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA. This season with the Red Sox, Dempster is 2-6 with a 4.45 ERA through 11 games. Dempster really struggled during the month of May. He logged a 5.51 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 14 walks following a 3.30 ERA with 43 strikeouts and 14 walks in April. However, he pitched well against the Phillies in his last start, a tough-luck loss to Cliff Lee. Dempster gave up six hits and two runs over seven innings, striking out four. Opposing pitcher Justin Grimm is in the same situation as he will face his former team. The right-hander was selected by the Red Sox in the 13th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of high school and even threw a bullpen session for Boston manager John Farrell at Fenway his senior year. Grimm never made a start at Fenway so he sure looks forward to this upcoming opportunity. Grimm is 5-3 through nine starts for the Rangers with a 3.93 ERA. He has won his last three starts with a 3.32 ERA. In his five wins, Grimm has pitched 32 innings, allowing 36 hits and only two walks. He will have a tough lineup to face as the Boston batters, who have one of the highest team averages in the American League have been looking very good lately. "You kind of got to look at them like a Detroit," Grimm said. "They're a good swinging ballclub. They've got a lot of good names on their team. I'm excited to pitch in Fenway."
Prediction: Rangers win 4-1
Game 2: John Lackey (3-5) vs. Alexi Ogando (4-2)
Well going into last night the Sox led the league in runs. After last night, they lead it by a lot more! 17-5! With a position player pitching last night for the Rangers made me so much more excited for this series with how tired that Ranger bullpen is going to be tonight and even tomorrow. Nava and Bradley Jr. were just 2 of the many hot bats last night as Bradley Jr. hit his first career home run and now the Sox will go for 4 straight wins on Wednesday night! Boston (36-23) leads the AL East in part because it's hitting .272 and averaging 5.2 runs to rank among the most potent offenses in the majors. Tonight they will send John Lackey to the mound who has been quite good so far but has struggled on the home run ball. Three solo homers hurt Lackey in his last start, but he's been quite effective this season, pounding the ball low in the strike zone and holding opponents to a .229 average. He has a 6.14 career ERA in 200 2/3 innings against the Rangers. He's 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in his last two outings against Texas and owns a 6.14 ERA in going 12-15 in 37 matchups. His ERA is his worst versus any team he's faced more than once, and the 37 starts are his most against any club. To face him will be Texas' pitcher, Alexi Ogando. Ogando will make his first start since being placed on the 15-day disabled list for biceps tendinitis on May 16. Ogando gave up a run on six hits in six innings in a win against the Red Sox on May 4, and is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA in seven road starts.Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre has not played since Saturday because of a strained left hamstring, and his status for the remainder of the road trip is in question. Beltre may be questioned to play tonight or tomorrow if he is feeling any better but Ron Washington wants to assure he is 100% before hitting the field. Since they were swept earlier this season the Red Sox will have to win the remaining two games of the three-game set in order to avoid dropping yet another season series against the Rangers. As it stands, they've lost each of the past four.
Prediction: red hot Red Sox win 6-3 (assuming there is not another blowout but I wouldn't mind that)
Game 3: Jon Lester (6-2) vs. Derek Holland (5-2)
Well once again the Sox are into a rubber match for the final game as it is 1-1 coming in. The Sox will send their ace to the mound, Jon Lester who has been up and down and all around in his last few starts. He hasn't been himself in his last three starts as he is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in that span, with his last outing a loss against CC Sabathia at Yankee Stadium. Lester is 3-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas. Facing Lester will be a guy who has completely rocked the Red Sox over his career. He leads all pitchers in the lowest ERA versus the Sox who have more than 40 innings pitched. The Rangers left-hander is 5-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six career outings against Boston. Through May, Holland went 4-0 as he enters June looking very strong and looks like he might be able to dominant this club. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 14 consecutive games and 55 of 60 games this season. That streak could be in jeopardy Thursday; Pedroia is 2-for-17 against Holland. That .118 batting average is his lowest against any left-handed pitcher he has 15 or more at-bats against. Over the past few years the Rangers have always had the upper hand on the Sox as they have won 10 of the last 13 outscoring the Sox 94-66 but many of the Sox runs came on Tuesday night in the blowout. This game will mainly be decided on how strong Lester is. One day he is good and another he is out within a few innings. Holland looks unbeatable but will the Sox unleash another hit parade tonight? First pitch is at 7:10!
Prediction: Rangers win 3-2 as Holland goes 8 strong innings before giving it to Nathan to save.