Game 59: Rangers at Red Sox - Texas-sized showdown in Beantown

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

The two best teams in the American League tangle tonight at Fenway Park when the Texas Rangers (35-21) visit the Boston Red Sox (35-23). The last time these two giants did battle was a month ago (May 3-5) in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers swept Boston, sending the Sox on their way to losing nine of their next 11 games. The Sox have won three of their last four going into tonight and come off an off-day after taking two of three against the Yankees in the Bronx.

Ryan Dempster gets the nod for the Red Sox, who host three games with Texas and three more this weekend against the Angels. Dempster is struggling mightily lately, with a 2-6 record and a 4.45 ERA. In May, Dempster posted a 5.51 ERA, but he bounced back with a solid outing against the Phillies, in which he lost to Cliff Lee.

Here is the Sox lineup for the first game of this homestand (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

1. Nava, RF
2. Carp, LF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Saltalamacchia, C
7. Drew, SS
8. Iglesias, 3B
9. Bradley Jr., CF

Dempster, P

Texas starter Josh Grimm is no stranger to the Red Sox organization. He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 13th round of the 2007 draft and even threw a bullpen session for Sox manager John Farrell. Grimm is 5-3 with a 3.93 ERA through nine starts for the Rangers.

Bradley Jr. in for Ells
Jacoby Ellsbury was slated to be back in the lineup tonight, but alas, he is not. Ellsbury is still recovering from left groin tightness, which he said happened during his club-record fifth steal against Philadelphia. He missed the entire series against the Yankees. Jackie Bradley Jr. has totaled four hits and three runs in 12 at-bats since being recalled by the Sox. He most certainly looks more comfortable now than he did when he was up with the Sox to start the season. He’ll play center and bat ninth tonight, with Daniel Nava in the leadoff spot and playing right.

Something’s gotta give
Texas’ pitching staff leads the AL with a 3.43 team ERA. Meanwhile, Boston’s bats are some of the best in the bigs, ranking second in the AL in extra-base hits and sporting a .268/.345/.439 slash-line and 283 RBIs, leading the junior circuit. The bats will be needed in this series. Last time out versus Texas, Boston scored a total of four runs in the three-game sweep by the Rangers. Also, since the start of the 2009 season, the Red Sox are just 12-28 against Texas. If they want to stake a claim in the AL title hunt, that needs to change, starting tonight.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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